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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: Monday, October 23, 2006 - 8 a.m.
CONTACT: Jessica Brown (702) 387-7552 or NevadaNOW@gmail.com

"I don't want to go up against that" is too often the refrain.

The woman who had been with Congressman Jim Gibbons and then called the police last Friday night, October 13, to report that she had been assaulted by the Congressman, later stated that she did not wish the incident to be further investigated. She did not recant her story; she confirmed that she believed that she had been the victim of an attempted assault. Like so many victims before her, she did not feel it would make a difference to continue with her complaint, because as she stated, "cause who he is and I just don't want to go up against something like that."

While most of the media coverage has focused on discrepancies between differing accounts of the evening, Nevada NOW recognizes that this incident is "just" one more sad example of a serious problem in our state: too many women are afraid that their stories are not be heard fairly -- in the press or in the political or the criminal justice systems. The tragedy of this event is not the impact on Congressman Gibbons' political ambitions; it is the horrific prospect that a human being who believes herself to be the victim of an assault did not believe shecould trust the criminal justice system and the media to protect her basic human right of personal security.

This woman's fear of not receiving fair treatment is sadly well founded. Ordinary women who feel they have been assaulted or battered cannot expect multiple officers to respond to their complaint, as occurred Friday night. Far more common is for women who seek help to be ridiculed, not believed or arrested themselves. Indeed, Sheriff Young pointed out as much himself, in Saturday's Sun, when he said that "This thing would not have amounted to anything, if it was anybody but the Congressman" that she mentioned in her 9-1-1 call. Indeed, Nevada NOW was very disappointed that the Sheriff belittled concern for this woman's complaint, implying that any such concern about a possible assault must motivated by "the political ramifications" rather than an interest in the well-being of this woman and all women.

Nevada NOW continues to defend her right to anonymity and her autonomy to determine for herself whether or not she wishes to stay out of the public eye. But there remains a long-standing issue for women in Nevada that has not been raised in most press coverage of this incident or in this year's elections, especially for sheriff, attorney general and governor - which is the need to increase support for women who believe they have been the victims of sexual assault, which is still not considered a priority crime in our state. As the woman pleaded of the 9-1-1 operator, "I just want to feel safe."

If any good might come from this event, it would be a genuine focus on the issue of sexual assault against women in our public policy, with the goal of reaching the day when all women will feel that they can tell their stories without fear of repercussion and with the knowledge that they can expect personal safety, fair treatment, and when needed, real assistance. We have urged and continue to urge the press to cover the positions of candidates for Sheriff, Attorney General and Governor on how best to improve this situation. Some candidates have laid out detailed plans on this issue; others have not addressed it all. Nevada NOW continues to believe that the issue of sexual assault has not received the attention it deserves in this year's election coverage. We hope that there will be greater discussion of this and other issues of importance to women in Nevada for the remainder of the campaign season.

The Nevada chapter of the National Organization for Women is dedicated to the advancement of women's rights and social status. Our diverse grassroots organization encourages participation of women and men.

Nevada NOW is comprised entirely of Volunteers. We have no paid staff. All donations go towards grassroots lobbying and membership education.


Nevada NOW
Website: http://www.nevadanow.org
Phone line: 702-387-7552

President: Jessica Brown
Executive VP: (open to member in the North)
VP of Media Relations: Melissa Clary
VP of Policy: Sari Wisch
Treasurer: LiNor Ng Briley
Secretary: Christina Hernandez