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Laurel Wemhoff

2015 Crime Victims’ Rights Award | National Crime Victims’ Service Awards
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Laurel Wemhoff | Crime Victims’ Rights Award
Washington, DC

After being sexually assaulted in late 2012, Ms. Laurel Wemhoff waited approximately 8 months for her Sexual Assault Nurse Exam kit to be processed. When the results came back, she was informed she did not have the right to know what was found in her kit. 

With the assistance of the Network for Victim Recovery of DC and self-advocacy–writing, calling and meeting with local DC Council members–Ms. Wemhoff testified during a DC Council public hearing held in December 2013 regarding the Sexual Assault Victims’ Rights Amendment Act (SAVRAA). She was willing to share the re-victimization she experienced when waiting for her results. It was her testimony and advocacy that prompted the inclusion of these rights in the legislation which were not in the original draft of the bill as noted in the committee report. 

When SAVRAA was introduced, Ms. Wemhoff met with the DC Council staff to offer a survivor perspective on the SAVRAA bill. She spent hours preparing and practicing testimony for the public hearing. Her testimony was cited in the committee report of the bill (that was passed on May 6, 2014) as support for why the legislation was amended to include rights to information and the right for survivors to receive timely notice—within 60 days—regarding the toxicology results as well as the right to be notified once the assailant is contacted by law enforcement. 

Ms. Wemhoff’s testimony is particularly courageous because during the time she advocated for survivors to have timely notice regarding their medical results and case information, her criminal case was still open after 14 months and did not move forward. The DC Council staff that worked on this bill and the DC Mayor’s Office, Office of Victim Services both provided letters of support to this nomination—each recognizing that Ms. Wemhoff was essential in the passage of SAVRAA and increased rights for sexual assault survivors in DC.

2015 National Crime Victims' Service Awards Tribute Video

Watch this video to learn more about Laurel Wemhoff, 2015 recipient of the Crime Victims’ Rights Award.