SB21-88, “Child Sexual Abuse Accountability Act,” passed the House and will hopefully he signed into law by Governor Polis. The bill allows victims of sexual misconduct within any youth related activity or program of any kind to sue for civil damages.
From the bill’s language, “The victim may bring the claim against the organization if the organization knew or should have known of a risk of sexual misconduct against minors participating in the program and the organization did not take action to address the risks or warn participants of the risk. The victim may bring a claim against a public employee or public entity that operates a youth program, including an educational entity operating an educational program or a district preschool program.”
SB21-088 passed the house 50 to 14. Public testimony by Mary Katherine Brooks Fleming before SB21-088’s passage through the Senate Judiciary Committee.
“My name is Mary-Katherine Brooks Fleming. I’m a small business owner, a mother to four children, 3 of whom attend Denver Public Schools , and a survivor of the most violent rape imaginable.
“And I am here to tell you that a sexual predator is targeting DPS children.
“Sixty two. Sixty two.
“In the summer of 2020, Wall of Moms formed, and we became a point of contact for people in the community who had nowhere else to go for help. In late August, I received a request from a DPS student for physical protection from a specific adult. Others came forward, asking for similar protection from the same individual. By autumn the asks escalated; individuals were now coming directly to my home, asking for medical attention.
“All in all, 61 high school students and one recent graduate would turn to me for help. The youngest was 14. 62 victims, 61 undocumented or DREAMers, all so afraid of one man they could barely whisper his name, all listing offenses from unwanted touching to violent acts of rape. None wanted to report to the police, most made comments like, “no one ever stops him,” indicating this wasn’t the first time they had sought help…when I learned that MULTIPLE NDAS WERE IN PLACE WITH WHITE SURVIVORS OF THIS PERSON, I REALIZED that a bunch of mandatory reporters, didnt.
“Those who came to my home didn’t have health insurance, couldn’t afford emergency rooms, and even if they could they wanted to avoid mandatory reporters for fear that such an interaction could jeopardize their family. It is horrifying to realize that someone had preyed on these children, knowing their silence was guaranteed. Mine never is.
“These are children. Their brains are still developing and their fear is real. We have to stop putting the onus on our children to feel and act like adults. They should have the time to decide when and if they want to come forward. WE ARE FAILING OUR KIDS. WE CANNOT overlook this injustice. Since our institutions don’t protect us, and the police cannot assist us, the ABSOLUTE LEAST we can do is ensure that public institutions are held accountable starting with our schools.
“As a parent, as a voter, as a Decent human being, I beg for your yes vote on SB88, so we the people can hold enabling institutions accountable, since statistics say there is only a 3% chance this rapist will be stopped. The ramifications for schools are great, AS THEY SHOULD BE.”
The bill, if and when it’s signed into law by Governor Polis, will allow victims such as the alleged ones of Tay Anderson to sue organizations such as DPS, if there is reason to believe DPS knew about the sexual misconduct against student victims allegedly perpetrated by Anderson.
Mary Katherine Brooks Fleming’s testimony on SB21-088 was ground-breaking and led to multiple more allegations about Tay Anderson as well as allegations of “rape culture” within Denver Public Schools. Brooks Fleming’s work to give voices to victims of such crimes as the ones allegedly perpetrated by Anderson has made it easier for victims to come forward and seek justice against their accusers in many ways. She also testified on SB21-073, “Civil Action Statute Of Limitations Sexual Assault,” which extends the statute of limitations for victims of sexual misconduct to bring civil actions against their accusers from six years to indefinitely.
Brooks Fleming’s testimony for SB21-073, which passed the Colorado legislature and was signed into law on April 15th, 2021, in her words:
“My name is Mary-Katherine Brooks Fleming. I prefer to be addressed as Mrs. Alex Fleming or MK, or Mom. After I tell you why that matters you will understand why you need to pass SB21-73 AS IS.
“Mary-Katherine Brooks was from rural Tennessee, and being accepted to Georgetown University was like winning the lottery- it changed the trajectory of her life. When she was raped, the first time, her sophomore year, she did not have the financial resources, support network, or the mental fortitude to fight a university that valued its reputation over its students, and a criminal system that was stacked against her. Mary-Katherine wasn’t a fighter or a trailblazer. She was scared and weak and she chose self-preservation. She didn’t have what it takes, what the justice system requires, to make the transition from victim to accuser.
“The following year, When two more victims asked for her testimony to aid in their criminal case against her rapist, she said no, and charges were never filed.
“Ten years later, when a The Wharton School graduate school classmate would ask for her help in reporting date rape, Mary-Katherine Brooks declined. She actually advised against it, said nothing good would come from it.
“I hate Mary-Katherine Brooks.
“I hate her so much not long after my rape I couldn’t hear her name. I told people to call me MK.
“You probably know MK, whether you like it or not. GOD she is awful! She knows her electeds by name and holds them accountable, testifies on bills, preps her #protestkids for public hearings and aids her fellow #Abolitionists in destroying the system that failed her younger self. Yet, she will always be a victim, because the statute of limitations on her accusation has expired.
“But enough about me. Let’s talk about my rapist.
“He was a faculty member at Georgetown University.
He told me if I reported no one would believe me.
He told me if I said his name out loud the University would destroy me and then he’d sue me for slander.
“He probably didnt have a panic attack when I posted to Facebook in October 2018 that I’d be coming to Cape Cod for work. I on the other hand had several panic attacks when friends warned me he works less than two miles from the hotel I would be staying in. My employer was not impressed with my behavior that weekend. This was coming after a month of trauma responses wrought by the Kavanaugh hearings, so they’d had enough. I can’t blame them, these are my wounds to hide. Hiding my trauma is a small part of the work I never asked for, the job I can’t quit as a rape survivor. I am judged on how I perform this work every day of my life.
“He’s protected by a statute of limitations so His work hasn’t changed much. I found the courage to report at when I found out he was working with transgender individuals. At that point my only redress was to call his employer, who informed me that his previous work history was consistent with the way problematic or predatory individuals are shifted around throughout the institution…but they couldn’t act on unofficial accusations from 20 years ago. Then they said they were sorry I wasn’t over it yet. Georgetown’s Title 9 coordinator said the same thing.
“SB21-703 would stop my rapist, Because MK Fleming would report. She has everything Mary-Katherine Brooks did not, and she would do it because MK still has panic attacks but it is HE who is currently protected in ways she will never be, for committing a crime from which she will never recover.
“YOU NEED to know that we call ourselves survivors because so few of us do. You don’t get over trauma. On behalf of every Mary-Katherine Brooks who lacked the immense privilege required to morph into MK. Fleming, who buckle and break under the strain of the labor of masking our trauma for YOUR COMORT, I DEMAND that you pass SB21-73 AS-IS with each and every clause INTACT.”