On House Floor, Kuster Honors Courage & Strength of Sexual Assault Survivor Chessy Prout
(Washington, DC) – Today, Congresswoman Annie Kuster (NH-02) took to the House floor to honor the incredible courage and strength of Chessy Prout, who was sexually assaulted by an upperclassman at her boarding school when she was 15 years old. Last month, Chessy, now 17, went public on the TODAY Show with her story to bring to light the pervasive issue of sexual assault, and to let other victims know they are not alone. She has also launched an Internet campaign, featuring the hashtag #IHaveTheRightTo, to empower sexual assault survivors.
“Chessy’s willingness to publicly share her story lets other survivors know that they, too, can come out of the shadows and are not alone,” said Congresswoman Kuster. “Speaking out against the painful ordeal Chessy went through took a huge amount of strength and courage. Like so many people, I am inspired by her actions, and I hope that they empower other survivors to come forward.”
“We are grateful to Congresswoman Kuster for her support and kindness and for also having the courage to champion the rights of child sexual assault victims,” said the Prout family.
“The NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence applauds both Congresswoman Kuster and Chessy Prout for courageously sharing their stories in an effort to help survivors of sexual violence know that they are not alone,” said Amanda Grady Sexton, Director of Public Policy at the NH Coalition Against Domestic and Sexual Violence. “Their words have great impact on victims who have suffered sexual violence and gives voice to those who are too often silenced.”
Within ten days of starting her #IHAVEARIGHTTO social media campaign, Chessy has had over 5 million impressions and has empowered other young survivors to come forward.
In her remarks, Kuster highlighted the need to finalize the Survivors’ Bill of Rights, which is close to reaching President Obama’s desk. This legislation would codify rights for sexual assault survivors, including the right to a medical forensic examination without charge. It would also protect evidence, such as rape kits, from being destroyed without notice or before the statute of limitations on a crime has lapsed.
Congresswoman Kuster has long been a champion for victims and survivors of sexual and domestic violence. Earlier this year, Congresswoman Kuster shared her own personal experiences involving sexual assault on the House floor. She also joined with 17 other Members of Congress to read on the House floor Emily Doe’s open letter describing her attack and ensuing trial – which marked the first time a victim’s statement has been read in full in the House chambers.
A longtime cosponsor of the Campus Safety and Accountability Act, which would require schools that receive federal funding to strengthen prevention, education, and reporting measures, Kuster is also helping to introduce new legislation with her colleague from California, Representative Jackie Speier; the Safe Transfer Act, which would strengthen measures to increase transparency for students when perpetrators transfer to their campuses, and the No Funding for Sexual Harassers Act, which would require schools found guilty of violating Title IX, a statute used in part to evaluate schools that are mishandling sexual assault cases, to report these violations to grant-making agencies, like NASA and the NSF. Both of these bills would help enhance accountability and improve transparency on college campuses.