Tag Archives: Rape/Sexual Assault Victims

Wasilla Project Filmmakers Examine Controversial Billing of Wasilla Rape Victims Billed for Rape Kits

A group of seven filmmakers have banded together for the “Wasilla Project” in which they examine the controversy surrounding the billing of rape victims for their forensic medical exams by the city of Wasilla.  The filmmakers have created a documentary highlighting this shameful practice of re-traumatizing sexual assault victims during the administration of Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin.

Mayor Sarah Palin and the Rape Kit Controversy Video

Why did we produce this video?

Our initial reason for starting the Wasilla Project was to learn about who Sarah Palin is from the people who know her best, folks from Wasilla, Alaska, Palin’s hometown. A group of 7 filmmaker friends got together, organized the plans, raised money for flights and soon we were off to Wasilla, to interview real people there about the Sarah Palin they know, and make a series of films that hopefully give a thoughtful, authentic view of who she is.

While the team’s political beliefs tend toward left of center, we hope that the films we produce will reach people no matter where they fall in the political spectrum.

As often happens, what we found when we arrived was far different than our expectations. People in Wasilla were very eager to help us, but very reluctant to be on camera. Governor Palin has had quite a history of political turmoil during her time in public office, and there was a lot of concern from people who know her not to get on her enemies list by speaking frankly on camera. Nevertheless, we were able to secure interviews with people whose concern for getting accurate information out to the public, was greater than their concern for their political future.

As we arrived in Wasilla and our original 3 scheduled interviews turned into 12, we found that we had acquired material for a much broader range of subjects than we anticipated. We are now in the process of creating 4 films on Palin to distribute between now and the election. Of the 4 films, we felt that this one, on the controversy of the police chief of Wasilla charging victims for the rape kits and whether Palin, mayor of Wasilla during that time knew, was the most important to get out first. We struggled to cover it in a way that gave the perspective of Palin and her supporters on the issue, but the topic was so disturbing that in the end, we just let the people we interviewed speak for themselves.

In this film you’ll see the following people from interviews we conducted September 26th-28th, 2008:
– Eric Croft, former Alaska state representative, Democrat, and sponsor of the 2000 bill which made it illegal to charge rape victims for rape kits in Alaska.
– Tara Henry, forensic nurse who has conducted many exams in Anchorage, Alaska.
– Dianne Woodruff, Republican Wasilla resident and member of the Wasilla City Council. Diane is no longer a republican, but an independent.
– Dr. Colleen Murphy, former Alaska Violent Crimes Compensation Board, where she heard first hand accounts of victims being charged for their forensic exam.

I’m sure that this story will continue to develop and we hope that this video will be a positive contribution to helping the American electorate understand the issues that it raises.

We feel that with an issue as controversial and important as this one, the more information people have about this issue, the better. Below are resources that may be helpful in order to try to understand what happened in Wasilla around violence against women between 1996 and 2000, the years in question where it has been acknowledged that this occurred. We look forward to your comments and ideas. Thank you for watching!

Paul Lundahl
Wasilla Project
October 8, 2008

Wasilla Project Filmmakers Investigate Wasilla Rape Victims Billed For Rape Kits

Memo to media: The Palin rape-kit story has not been “debunked”

Sarah Palin endorsed a Wasilla policy that charged sexual assault victims for their “rape kits.”

Wasilla Police Department Statistics – 1994 through 2005  (Note that these figures are often significantly under reported)

Gov. Tony Knowles Signs Sexual Assault Bill

Palin’s Anti-Rape-Investigation Stance Raised by McCain Campaign. Will Reporters Question?

Political consultant Eric Schmeltzer writes on September 16, 2008 for the Huffington Post  that the McCain campaign has issued a new explanation for the termination of former Alaska Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan … that Monegan traveled to Washington, D.C. seeking funds to combat the vast number of sexual assault cases plaguing Alaska.  Since Alaska has the highest number of sexual assaults of any state in the United States, this raises the question as to why the McCain campaign would see Walt Monegan’s attempts to fight the tragedy through increased funding for troopers, judges and prosecutors to handle all the rape cases.  ~ Sarah Palin Truth Squad

It’s time for the media to get off their duffs, and look into what Sarah Palin’s problem is with investigating rape cases, and whether John McCain is comfortable with it.

Here’s what we know. First, the state had to pass a law to mandate the funding of processing of “rape kits” (the forensics evidence collected in rape cases), specifically because of Wasilla, under Mayor Palin. That policy of not paying for rape kits was not in place when Palin took office — the town paid for rape exams and rape kit processing before she was Mayor.

And now, today, in an attempt to say that the firing of former Public Safety Commissioner Walt Monegan was not due to his refusing to fire Palin’s ex-brother-in-law, the McCain campaign actually tells the AP, “The last straw, the McCain campaign said, was in July, when Monegan planned to travel to Washington to seek federal money for a plan to assign troopers, judges and prosecutors who could exclusively handle sexual assault cases — one of the state’s most intractable crime problems.”

The McCain campaign paints this as a process story – that Monegan was going to DC to get money to prosecute rape, when the Governor didn’t OK that request. I’d say it raises a huge question. Why is it that the Governor of the state with the highest per capita rate of forcible rape, who requested hundreds of billions in earmarks, not want to fight for Federal dollars to help law enforcement in the state investigate and prosecute rape?

Palin’s Anti-Rape-Investigation Stance Raised by McCain Campaign. Will Reporters Question?

GOP Vice Presidential Candidate Alaska Governor Sarah Palin

GOP Vice Presidential Candidate Alaska Governor Sarah Palin

Help is not on the way: Communities need more support to protect Alaska Native women

Contrary to published statements on September 12, 2008 from Maria Comella, a McCain/Palin GOP campaign speakswoman following the revelation that under the administration of Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin rape victims were charged for post-assault medical exams, it would appear that the high number of sexual assaults in Alaska is not a top priority for Governor Sarah Palin.  In an article published by the Anchorage Daily News on May 3, 2008, “violence against Native women in Alaska at an alarming rate.”  Further, “Alaska has had the highest rate of forcible rape in the nation for 10 years in a row.”

Women’s shelters face limited resources due to lack of government support.  One such shelter is the Emmonak Women’s Shelter in Emmonak, 200 miles by air from Bethel.  Funding for the shelter was cut by former Governor Frank Murkowski in 2005 and has not been reinstated by Governor Sarah Palin.  “To find refuge from abuse, the state said the women could fly to Bethel or Dillingham.” 

One of the most heartbreaking aspect of the story come from Lynn Hootch, the executive director of the women’s shelter, who states that when the Emmonak shelter closed, some of the abused “women and elders did not have a way to get to Bethel.  They huddled near the Emmonak shelter though it wasn’t open, because they felt it was a safe place.”

Under the Palin administration, the Emmonak Shelter still has not been returned to 24-hour service, with a federal grant to operate during daytime working hours only. 

~ Sarah Palin Truth Squad

Help is not on the way: Communities need more support to protect Alaska Native women

Emmonak Womens Shelter

Emmonak Womens Shelter

Wasilla rape victims billed when Palin was the mayor

The Associated Press reporter Mary Pemberton followed up on September 12, 2008 with the story regarding sexual assault victims in Wasilla being forced to pay for their own rape kits and exams under Mayor Sarah Palin’s administration.

  ~ Sarah Palin Truth Squad

Former Democratic Rep. Eric Croft, who sponsored that bill, said he was disappointed that simply asking the Wasilla police department to stop didn’t work. Croft said he doubts Palin was unaware of the practice.

Maria Comella, a McCain-Palin campaign spokeswoman, said Palin “does not believe, nor has she ever believed, that rape victims should have to pay for an evidence-gathering test.” To suggest otherwise, she said, is a “misrepresentation of her commitment to supporting victims and bringing violent criminals to justice.”

Alaska routinely has the nation’s highest rate of sexual assault.

 

 

 

Example of rape kits used by law enforcement agencies

Example of rape kits used by law enforcement agencies

 

Critics: Under Palin, Wasilla charged rape victims for exam

Anchorage Daily News reporter George Bryson writes on September 11, 2008 about the practice of the Wasilla, Alaska police department, under the leadership of Mayor Sarah Palin, of charging rape victims for forensic tests and medical exams.  Complaints about Wasilla lead the Alaska Legislature to pass a bill banning the practice statewide.  As noted in an article on May 23, 2000, published by The Frontiersman, the local Wasilla newspaper, Alaska State Troopers and the majority of municipal police departments pay for the examinations of rape victims, but that Wasilla charged the victims of sexual assault for their exams.  The Frontiersman went on to quote Wasilla Police Chief Charlie Fannon as objecting to the new legislation, stating it could cost Wasilla $5,000 to $14,000 annually for rape exams.  It should be noted that Fannon was appointed by Wasilla Mayor Sarah Palin, after she terminated Police Chief Irl Stambaugh.

The article continues the interviews of former Governor Tony Knowles and current Ketchikan Mayor Bob Weinstein regarding Sarah Palin’s support of the $230 million Gravina Island Access Project, now widely known as the “Bridge to Nowhere.”  What may not be known is Governor Palin’s current support of another, more expensive bridge project, the Knik Arm Crossing which will provide Wasilla residents faster access to Anchorage at a cost of $400 million to $600 million to the American taxpayers.  ~ Sarah Palin Truth Squad

Ex-Gov. Knowles, Ketchikan mayor say Palin misleads

Critics: Under Palin, Wasilla charged rape victims for exam

Demonstrator holding sign which reads Rape Kits Should Be Free

Demonstrator holding sign which reads Rape Kits Should Be Free