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Sexual Misconduct is Explored at 15th Annual Doyle Conference

DoyleConference1Be educated. Be aware. Be honest. Speak up. These words were on display throughout the presentations that were given during the 15th Annual Stephen D. Doyle Criminal Justice Symposium, which was held at Saint Peter’s on Thursday, April 16. The theme of this year’s conference was “Sexual Misconduct on Campus: Education, Prevention and the Law.”

The Doyle Conference annually addresses a topical and current criminal justice issue and this year’s topic was incredibly timely as April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. While the majority of attendees of the Doyle Conference tend to be students and faculty from the criminal justice department, this year the McIntyre Conference Center was filled with students, faculty, staff and administrators from a number of different campus departments and programs.

The moderator for the conference was Kevin Callahan ’69, lecturer of criminal justice at Saint Peter’s and former Superior Court judge, and he explained that this topic is not only relevant to individuals studying or teaching criminal justice, but to all students and college administrators. “When I first took the bench, things were very different and the victim of a sexual assault case had to prove her virtue. Things have certainly changed and we are making progress, but we are not there yet.”

The first session of the conference was focused on the law and prevention. Panelists included Meika Roberson, Ph.D., chief medical officer for CarePoint Health at Hoboken University Medical Center; Manisha Shaw, L.S.W., program director at Hudson S.P.E.A.K.S Against Sexual Violence; and Edward G. Sponzilli, Esq., member of the firm Norris McLaughlin, and Marcus Attorneys at Law.

Freddie Jones ’16 is currently studying criminal justice at Saint Peter’s and is an intern at the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office. Sexual assault is an issue he is exposed to during his internship and he found the first session to be extremely informative.

“It was very interesting to get the perspectives of each of the individuals involved in the reporting and handling of an incidence of sexual assault, from the doctor to the victim’s advocate to the legal representative,” Jones said. “One interesting thing I learned is that rape kits are free, but victims may think they need insurance to see a doctor. It is important to educate people with this type of information so they don’t hesitate to report an incidence of sexual misconduct.”

The second session of the conference was focused on education and the legal process. Panelists included Debra Simon, deputy first assistant prosecutor of the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office; Mary J. Ciancimino, first assistant deputy public defender for the New Jersey Office of the Public Defender; and Sgt. Ken Kolich, of the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office.

DoyleConference2The speakers in both panels addressed topics such as consent, media coverage of sexual misconduct, victim shaming and blaming, victim’s rights, the legal process and more. Criminal justice student Dairen Torres ’15 found the entire conference very intriguing. “It was interesting to hear the real stories of victims from the professionals who handled their cases,” he said.

Students also stopped to visit the student life and development table at the symposium and signed a banner to take the pledge to speak out against domestic violence and sexual assault. The students received teal ribbons and bracelets to wear in order to raise awareness on campus about this important issue. They also were able to pick-up pamphlets with information and resources about sexual misconduct.

The event was sponsored by the department of criminal justice, student life and development, the Guarini Institute for Government and Leadership, CarePoint Health Foundation, the Criminal Justice National Honor Society, the Hudson County Prosecutor’s Office and Hudson S.P.E.A.K.S Against Sexual Violence.