One month after she distanced herself from Sen. Al Franken in the wake of misconduct allegations, sexual assault survivor Abby Honold has teamed with Minnesota lawmakers in a bipartisan effort to reform training for investigators.
Worried that the sexual harassment allegations against Franken would torpedo the bill, Honold asked Democratic Sen. Amy Klobuchar to take on the legislation, a move that drew some criticism from Franken’s supporters. On Wednesday, Klobuchar announced she was partnering with GOP Rep. Tom Emmer to name a bipartisan bill after Honold. Franken is scheduled to resign Jan. 2.
If passed, the “Abby Honold Act” would create a two-year test program that would see better training for investigators when they interview sexual assault victims in hopes of making it more likely that rapists face criminal charges.
Honold pushed the bill because of her own experience after she was raped in November 2014. She said the police investigator assigned to the case treated her poorly. She had difficulty remembering details of the rape, completely answering questions or remembered moments of the assault out of order, providing incomplete information during her interview. It took a trauma-trained examination nurse for Honold to provide a clearer description of the rape, she said.
The nurse asked her what she smelled and tasted, allowed Honold to talk uninterrupted, and assured her that not remembering the rape in chronological order was normal.
“A lot of important details did not come back to me until she asked those questions,” Honold said. “I was lucky enough to encounter a nurse that had been trained. I don’t know if my rapist would be in prison if I hadn’t met her.”
Minneapolis police initially dropped the case. It wasn’t until an investigator from another agency took up the case that the rapist, Daniel Drill-Mellum, was charged and ultimately convicted.
The Abby Honold Act would provide training to assault investigators that would teach them to interview rape survivors similar to the way Honold’s nurse interviewed her.
“I want to make sure people have better experiences when reporting sexual assaults in the future,” Honold said.
In announcing the legislation, Klobuchar and Emmer praised Honold for working on behalf of rape victims.
“I’m in awe of Abby’s ability to turn an incredibly horrific experience into something that could help other survivors,” Klobuchar said in a statement.
Added Emmer: “For Abby, and for the thousands of victims who experience trauma, this is a key part of their recovery process, as is a compassionate response in the immediate aftermath.”