Sexual assault forum to be held

PULLMAN – The Pullman community will have the opportunity to interact with local and WSU experts and service providers through the “Sexual Assault Open Forum” at 7 p.m. Feb. 7 in the Pullman City Hall Council Chambers. The event is free and open to the public.

“An educated community that is watchful, cares for its citizens, enforces laws and openly talks about sexual assault is less vulnerable to ongoing perpetration,” said Patricia Maarhuis, WSU Alcohol and Drug Counseling, Assessment, and Prevention Services (ADCAP) coordinator.

The forum is a means to educate the community about
a form of violence that is highly prevalent but not often openly discussed or closely examined.
Task Force Members Theresa Murrell-Miller, Elaine Voss, Yoshi Smith, Douglas Pierce
According to recent research on the WSU campus, 32 percent of the students surveyed reported that someone has touched them in an “unwanted sexual manner.” This included forced kissing and fondling, even if it was over their clothes. Ten percent of WSU students have been forced to have sexual intercourse since coming to WSU and 71 percent of those students knew the person involved in that incident.

“Washington State University has strived to attain the reputation as a first class university,” said Pullman City Police Chief, Ted Weatherly. He credits both the WSU and the Pullman communities for achieving the image of WSU as a “World Class institution,” but he gives the greatest credit to its student body.

“A fine example of student involvement occurred in September 2007. Members of the Greek community developed information and worked closely with Pullman police officers to the extent that two rape suspects were identified, subsequently apprehended and are now awaiting trial.

“While one would argue that the quality of life in Pullman, including safety and security, is as good as you will find anywhere, Pullman is not immune to the social problems encountered by other communities,” he said.

Panelists providing information about sexual assault and its consequences will include: Byron Bedirian, Whitman County Prosecutors Office; Angie Jeffries, WSU student representative; Cassandra Nichols, psychologist at the WSU Counseling Services; Anna Nofsinger, emergency department registered nurse; Jerry Pastore, WSU Counseling Services/ADCAP; Christine Wall, executive director, Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse; Ted Weatherly, Pullman Police department chief; and Chris Wurthrich, assistant director at the WSU Office of Student Conduct. Greg Hooks, chair of Sociology at WSU, will serve as moderator.

The forum will discuss in depth the topics of substance use and assault; protocols and response; medical response; prosecution, legal and psychological strategies; prevention; and the scope of the problem, its prevalence and the population affected. Questions and answers will be led by a moderator via audience, emails, and sub-committee members to encourage discussion between panelists.

To contribute to the discussion, interested individuals are invited to attend in person, email questions to, or tune in to the forum on channel 13. Questions can be submitted before and during the forum.

For more information, visit

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