US lawmaker pushing awareness, work to end sexual violence

AP News
Posted: Apr 17, 2017 5:15 PM

CONCORD, N.H. (AP) — The New Hampshire congresswoman who went public last year with her story of sexual abuse decades ago on Capitol Hill says she's gained inspiration from the younger generation of women.

"It's been really helpful to tap into a younger generation that is really stepping up and saying, 'This is not OK. We need to do better to raise awareness around consent," Democratic Rep. Annie Kuster told The Associated Press in an interview Monday.

Kuster was back home to join teenager Chessy Prout in a panel discussion at the University of New Hampshire School of Law. She recently launched a bipartisan task force to address sexual violence, and both the 60-year-old Kuster and the teenaged Prout are advocates for those who've been sexually assaulted.

"I admire her courage and conviction and her willingness to speak out," Kuster said of Prout ahead of the discussion.

Prout first spoke publically last year about being sexually assaulted at a prestigious prep school in 2014.

Owen Labrie, of Tunbridge, Vermont, was convicted in 2015 of misdemeanor sex assault charges and a felony charge of using a computer to lure a minor for sex when he was a senior at St. Paul's School in Concord. He is appealing his case.

Prout was 15 and a freshman at the school at the time, and has since joined Kuster's efforts to raise awareness about assaults.

Kuster last year revealed that a celebrity surgeon assaulted her decades ago when she was a young staffer in Washington, D.C. The task force she announced earlier this month will explore key areas: K-12 education, college campus safety, the rape kit backlog, military sexual trauma, ending online harassment, improved data and collection, and law enforcement training.

She said task force members will hold hearings and put together a legislative agenda.