Alameda County District Attorney's Office
Nancy E. O'Malley, District Attorney

Meet DA Nancy E. O'Malley

DA’s Office Launches Designated Friend Initiative at Victims’ Rights Week Forum

Today representatives from the Alameda County DA's Office and the Alameda County Family Justice Center hosted a community forum at Cal State East Bay, focusing on sexual assault on campus.

Speaking at the event were the head of the DA's Office Sexual Assault Unit, Assistant District Attorney Joni Leventis, Criminal Justice Administration Department Chair Dr. Dawna Komorosky, and Title IX Coordinator Terri Labeaux.

"Sexual assault, wherever it occurs, is one of the most devastating crimes a victim can suffer, and based on that, these offences are amongst the most important that we prosecute," said ADA Leventis.

"It [sexual assault] is also one of the most underresported crimes in the United States. More than 60% of sexual assaults go unreported... and male victims are the least likely to report being victims of sexual assault despite the fact they make up about ten percent of the victims".

ADA Leventis took the opportunity to introduce District Attorney Nancy O'Malley's new initiative to the student cohort, called 'Designated Friend'. The Designated Friend initative is designed to encourage young people to nominate a trusted friend to help keep them safe when they go out.

"Similar to the way a designated driver assumes the responsibility to ensure you arrive home safely, a designated friend is someone who will look out for you, to be aware of where you are and, if intoxicated, to make sure someone can't take advantage of you," said DA O'Malley of the initiative.

Victim-witness advocates from the DA's Office handed out safety cards with valuable information about the 'Designated Friend' initiative as well as tips and contact numbers for quick reference. These safety cards are designed to fit easily in wallets or purses, and are a great source of information.

"Together... we can create a much safer community for all of us, not just on campus, but throughout the entire community," ADA Leventis said.

Staff from the DA's Office including prosecutors, victim-witness advocates, claim specialists and restitution specialists were on hand at the event to answer questions and provide attendees with safety cards and other brochures. They were joined by community partners such as Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD), Family Violence Law Center, SAVE, and CSUEB Student Heath Counselling Services, CALICO and MISSSEY.

Victims' Rights Week in Alameda County continues tomorrow with two scheduled events, the first at the University of California Berkeley's Sproul Plaza from 12pm, and the other at the Ruggieri Senior Center in Union City from 12:30pm.

Posted on Apr 20, 2015