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Wednesday First Annual "Start by Believing Day" in Utah

West Valley City

Wednesday marks the launch of an annual campaign in Utah to change the way people respond to reports of rape and sexual assault. It calls on law enforcement, family and friends to “Start by Believing”. 

Here’s the message behind the international “Start by Believing” campaign: If someone confesses they’ve been the victim of sexual assault, don’t question their story. Help them. Democratic State Representative Angelo Romero says Utah has a sexual assault rate higher than the national average, and a report rate lower than the national average.

“Many times people don’t feel like they’re believed,” Romero says. “That’s why you see sexual assault is so underreported not only here in Utah, but nationally as well.”

West Valley City Police Chief Lee Russo says he introduced the concept to his department when it launched the special victims unit earlier this year.

“It’s not necessarily that we’re saying we’re just going to believe outright everything that’s being said,” Russo says. “We’re going to take that story. We’re going to listen and assume that’s the truth. Then we’re going to start following the facts and the evidence in the case.”

Representative Romero sponsored two measures in this year’s legislative session that help support victims of sexual assault. House Bill 74, legally affirmed that sexual intercourse with an unconscious person is rape and concurrent resolution 1 designates the first Wednesday in April as “Start by Believing Day”.

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