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Alexander Prout: A step forward

May 21, 2023

By Alexander Prout
New Hampshire Union Leader
3 min read

THE SCOURGE of sexual violence is one of the biggest issues of our time.

We are grateful that Michael Delaney withdrew his nomination last week for the First Circuit
Federal Court of Appeals. And we are encouraged that the voices of survivors and their
supporters have been heard.

A survivor should never have to worry about facing the tactic of their anonymity and safety
being challenged by an attorney. If we are to bring forth positive change, we need all judges
to respect the dignity and bravery of sexual assault survivors in court rooms that do not
sanction intimidation of survivors.

There are 25 million survivors of sexual assault in the U.S. according to a 2017 CDC report.
Each year in our country there are an additional 463,634 new victims of rape and sexual
assault (RAINN).

Victims of sexual violence must deal with physical and emotional consequences, not only
for themselves, but by extension, their families and loved ones. Survivors not only face the
trauma of their assault, but, unlike any other crime victims, they face secondary
victimization — disbelief, blame, shame, silence and isolation — from their own community
and the very institutions they trusted.

Sexual assault has a signicantnancial cost to our communities as well. The economic
impact of sexual violence is estimated by the CDC to be $3.1 trillion.

The truth is that sexual assault is an epidemic impacting our nation. We all know a victim
of sexual violence. Unfortunately, in the vast majority of cases, the victim does not feel
safe enough to speak out about their trauma, in many cases even to their closest loved ones.

Seven years ago, the #MeToo movement exploded across our consciousness with millions
of brave survivors speaking out across the United States and around the world. As a
country we began to learn about the epidemic of sexual violence experienced by too many
innocent victims who faced blame, shame, isolation and silence for too long. Seven years
later, shattering the silence is no longer enough. We must convert this knowledge and
these brave voices into action.

Every victim that does speak up to seek justice will face a “Delaney,” a lawyer willing to use
every tool possible to intimidate and shame the victim into silence. It was not acceptable
to reward Delaney with a lifetime appointment to the Federal Court of Appeals, which is the
breeding ground for future Supreme Court justices.

We are grateful for the overwhelming public outcry to his nomination. The public cares
about victims of crime, and this fact was underestimated by Delaney’s sponsors. The `nal
bipartisan opposition within the Senate Judiciary Committee to Delaney was recognition
that intimidation tactics on behalf of an abusive institution (St. Paul’s School) will not be
tolerated any longer.

Through this tortured nomination process, survivors of sexual assault and their advocates
have taken a step forward. I Have The Right To ( for more
information), the organization co-founded by our daughter Chessy Prout, will continue to
amplify the voices of survivors and work towards the belief that all students deserve the
right to an education free from sexual assault. Now, we must challenge our politicians,
communities, schools and ourselves to assume the responsibility to make this happen.

Alexander Prout is a board member of I Have The Right To. He lives in Washington, D.C.

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