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Madam Speaker, today the House considers House Resolution 1259, a resolution designating the month of April as Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and I totally support this important legislation. I want to thank the gentlewoman from Wisconsin (Ms. Baldwin) for sponsoring this bill and bringing it to the attention of Congress again this year. It is important that we recognize Sexual Assault Awareness Month to bring awareness to this tragic crime that occurs throughout the United States.
The goal of the resolution is to raise public awareness and educate communities and individuals about sexual assault and sexual violence. It encourages the prevention of sexual assault and the improvement of treatment of its survivors and the prosecution of perpetrators.
The numbers tell the story we cannot ignore. On average, a person is sexually assaulted in the United States every 2 1/2 minutes. According to the Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics, individuals age 12 or older experienced an estimated 222,000 rapes or sexual assaults in 2008, the last year for which we have data. The Rape Abuse Incest National Network, called RAINN, provides statistics about incidents of sexual assault in this country. And according to RAINN, children and young adults are the greatest risk of sexual assault: 44 percent of sexual assault victims are under the age of 18, and 80 percent are under the age of 30. One in six women and 1 in 33 men are victims of rape or attempted rape. And over the course of their lifetimes, 18 percent of all women in the United States are raped.
Thankfully, there are thousands of advocates across the country who serve as a bridge to recovery and encourage survivors of sexual assault to report the crimes as soon as it occurs. As my friend from Wisconsin has pointed out, there are numerous victims groups. I call them the victims posse, who are out to help victims of crimes, especially in the area of sexual assault, and we commend them for their work in this country.
As we work to empower victims of sexual assault, we also need to support the efforts of law enforcement officials to punish sex offenders and combat future occurrences. Unfortunately, only 41 percent of sexual assault victims report their attacks to law enforcement. We must encourage victims to report the crimes so we can aggressively prosecute rapists and remove them from our communities. That is why we build penitentiaries, to house rapists and people who sexually assault children.
Today's House resolution increases public awareness of sexual assault and works to combat it through prevention, education, and punishment. As chairman and co-chair of the Victims Rights Caucus, along with my friend from California (Mr. Costa) we totally support this legislation.
I have no further requests for time and am prepared to close.
Ms. BALDWIN. Madam Speaker, I continue to reserve the balance of my time.
Mr. POE of Texas. Madam Speaker, as my friend has pointed out, this resolution, Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the statistics really don't tell the story because it is a story about people. Real people. She mentioned one from her State of Wisconsin. And there are too many to mention and talk about. But I would like to talk about one person that impacted my life.
Before I came to Congress, I spent all of my time at the courthouse in Houston, first as a prosecutor and then as a criminal court judge. Every day for years, almost 30, I saw criminal cases, either prosecuting them or hearing them as a judge.
One of those cases involved a young lady. I will call her Lisa. Lisa was a student at the University of Houston. She was married and had a couple of sons. She worked in the daytime and went to school at night to get a second degree. She had left school one evening and she was driving down one of our freeways heading home out in the suburbs. The lights came on on the dash of her car, she had car trouble, and she pulled off to a service station she thought was open. It was not open, but she thought it was. Lisa talked to the service station attendant, turned out he wasn't the service station attendant but she thought he was, trying to get some help late at night.
The first thing that happened, Luke Johnson pulled her out of that car. He kidnapped her. He took her to a remote area of east Texas in the piney woods. He sexually assaulted her. He beat her so bad with a pistol that he thought he had killed her. In fact, when he later was arrested, he was mad that he hadn't killed her. Lisa was a remarkable woman. She survived that brutal attack even though she laid in the woods for a couple of days before a hunter found her. She was rescued. Her physical needs were met. The person who committed that crime, Luke Johnson, was captured by the police. He was charged with aggravated sexual assault. He was tried in my court. Lisa came and testified about the events. Luke Johnson was convicted and sent to the penitentiary for 99 years.
You see, Madam Speaker, we would hope that would be the rest of story and life would go on and victims would recover; but that is not the world we live in. Victims are people, and because they are people, things happen to them emotionally as well as physically.
The first thing that happened to Lisa was she didn't go back to school; she never went back to that campus again. The next thing that happened is she lost her job; she was fired because she could not concentrate based upon this crime. Her husband, being the kind of guy he was, he decided he no longer wanted her. He filed for divorce, divorced her, got custody of the children, and moved to another State.
Lisa started abusing drugs. First it was alcohol, then it was everything else. She couldn't quite handle the fact that she was a victim of crime, even though the perpetrator was off in the penitentiary. And not too long after this crime was committed, I received a phone call from Lisa's mother, and she told me that Lisa had taken her life. She left a note, Madam Speaker, that I still have in my office today across the street, and the note reads, ``I'm tired of running from Luke Johnson in my nightmares.''
See, she got the death penalty for being a victim of sexual assault. And we would hope that victims could handle it, that they could move on with their life, that they could cope, but that's not the world we operate in because they're real people. And we as a Nation need to be sensitive to victims of sexual assault. It's the most unusual crime in our culture. We can sort of see why people commit theft. We can see sometimes why people get mad and in a rage they might even commit a murder. But there is no logical reason why anybody would commit the crime of sexual assault against another person unless it's an attempt to steal the very soul of that person, and that's what criminals are trying to do when they commit this crime. That is why it is such a horrible crime, and we as a culture must be concerned about it.
So this resolution helps bring that to the public forum, that Sexual Assault Awareness Month is something that we should be, as a people, concerned about because victims have rights, too. The same Constitution that protects defendants protects victims of crime. And as it has been said before, we are not judged by the way we treat the rich, the famous, the powerful, the important folks. We're judged by the way we treat the innocent, the weak, the victims of crime. That's how we as a people will be judged.
So I commend the gentle lady from Wisconsin for sponsoring this resolution. I wholeheartedly support it and I urge its adoption.
Madam Speaker, I yield back the balance of my time.
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