Sexual Assault

Ahead of Domestic and Sexual Violence Awareness Day at the Capitol this week, we bring you a special report and update on several bills aimed at helping survivors.

Rape Kits
Pat Sullivan / AP

West Virginia may soon require the speedy testing and collection of rape kits under a bill passed by the West Virginia House of Delegates on Friday.

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The West Virginia Senate passed a bill that protects victims of sexual assault and rape from being required to submit to certain physical exams. Senate Bill 125 cleared the upper chamber Tuesday on a 33-0 vote.

The measure would prevent a court from ordering a victim of sexual assault from submitting to a medical examination evaluating the reported assault. Additionally, a victim’s refusal to submit to such examinations could also not be used as a basis to exclude evidence gathered from other relevant examinations of the victim.

Updated at 5:05 p.m. ET

Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta is stepping down after criticism over his role in a nonprosecution deal reached years ago with the well-connected businessman accused of sex crimes, Jeffrey Epstein.

Acosta appeared on Friday at the White House with President Trump and announced his resignation.

"I do not think it is fair for this administration's Labor Department to have Epstein as its focus rather than the incredible economy we have today," Acosta said. "The right thing was to step aside."

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting

On this West Virginia Morning, the latest episode of West Virginia Public Broadcasting’s Us & Them podcast focuses on the subject of sexual assault on college campuses. This is an emotionally charged and a delicate subject. Our assistant news director, Glynis Board, spoke with Us & Them Host Trey Kay about the episode titled “Reckoning with Sexual Assault: Righting a Wrong.”


Two college freshman spend a night together. There’s inexperience, miscommunication and things go wrong -- really wrong.

One of them calls what happened sexual assault, the other calls it rape. But together, they’ve found a remarkable way to recover, heal and learn.  

For this episode, Trey speaks with Stephanie Lepp, the producer of the podcast “Reckonings” about the story of Anwen and Sameer and one night that has changed their lives.

Will Price / West Virginia Legislative Photography

The West Virginia Senate has passed legislation that creates a sexual assault victims’ Bill of Rights. Other related legislation that would help victims is also being considered.


Senate Bill 39 seeks to codify best practices in the wake of a sexual assault. For example, the bill would allow victims to choose someone to accompany him or her to a hospital or other health care facility and to attend proceedings concerning the alleged assault, including police and prosecution interviews as well as court.

Stacy Kay


Merriam-Webster declared that the word for 2017 is 'feminism.' The term was the most-looked-up on their online dictionary, and there were 70% more searches for the word this year than in 2016. Trey feels this couldn’t be more timely because this year, he’s seen women effecting a change in the balance of power in ways that he’s never experienced before. In a way, he sees the whole thing like an earthquake that’s been a long time in coming.

On The Legislature Today, the state of West Virginia’s budget has largely been the focus of this legislative session, overshadowing many of the other bills making their way through the process.

Several pieces of legislation, though, have been introduced to aid the victims of rape and sexual assault in the state. Sen. Mike Woelfel and Nancy Hoffman with the West Virginia Foundation for Rape Information and Services discuss those bills.

Jimmie Gardner

A former Charleston Wheelers baseball player convicted in a 1987 sexual assault case whose sentence was recently vacated has been released from prison, but his freedom remains uncertain.

Forty-nine-year-old Jimmie Gardner was released on bond Friday, after serving over 25 years in prison. Gardner was convicted in 1990 of sexually assaulting a Kanawha City woman and beating her mother. He was sentenced to 33 to 110 years in prison.

Brian Turner / Wikimedia Commons

A Harrison County judge has asked attorneys on both sides to turn over evidence before he sentences a woman who has pleaded guilty to misdemeanor charges in connection to her running of a Salem boarding school for troubled youths.

Ibrahim.ID / wikimedia Commons

A former Capital High School student accused of raping a 15-year-old girl inside the school earlier this year was allowed to withdraw his guilty plea.

Kanawha Circuit Judge Jennifer Bailey approved a motion filed by the 17-year-old boy's attorney to allow him to back out of the plea deal. Bailey says when King entered the agreement, he may not have known he would have to register as a sex offender for the rest of his life. The boy pleaded guilty to first-degree sexual abuse last month as part of a deal for giving up his juvenile status to be tried as an adult.

At the legislature today, after a high school principal resigned and faces misdemeanor charges for failing to report a sexual assault at his school, lawmakers revisit a law pertaining to that issue.  One senator lashes out at a house bill that prohibits local anti-discrimination ordinances.  And we’ll talk with the Secretary of State about election bills at this session on The Legislature Today.

Members of the House Judiciary Committee are revisiting the state's mandatory reporting law after an incident at Capital High School in Charleston. The school's principal, Clinton Giles, resigned from his post after reports that he failed to notify law enforcement of a sexual assault on the high school's campus. Giles was reportedly notified of the January 26th incident by a counselor, and he now faces misdemeanor charges in Kanawha County Circuit Court. The incident now has lawmakers looking to update a forty year old law dealing with sexual assaults. But first, the committee considered a bill that aims to reign in the receptions lawmakers are invited to while in Charleston for legislative meetings.

A former Kanawha County principal is scheduled to stand trial in March on a misdemeanor charge of failing to report a sexual assault allegation.

Former Capital High School principal Clinton Giles pleaded not guilty on Tuesday. Kanawha County Circuit Court Judge Carrie Webster scheduled Giles' trial for March 23. He will remain free on a personal recognizance bond.

The 64-year-old Giles retired after he was charged on Feb. 3.

U.S. Attorney's Office / United States Department of Justice

  A federal prosecutor is holding a roundtable discussion on domestic violence and sexual assault.

U.S. Attorney William Ihlenfeld will conduct the meeting at the YWCA of Wheeling on Thursday afternoon.

Others expected to be in attendance include county sheriffs and prosecutors and members of violence prevention programs.

Sexual violence is never the victim's fault. It doesn't matter where you were, the time of day, what you were wearing, or if you were drinking -- sex without consent is rape. Dan Ringer and guest Nancy Hoffman, State Coordinator for WV Foundation for Rape Information & Services will talk about finding help for victims of sexual violence on this episode of The Law Works.

David Benbennick / wikimedia Commons

West Virginia's attorney general says some school administrators have been reassigned after a lawsuit claimed they brushed aside allegations that two boys at a middle school sexually abused female classmates.
Patrick Morrisey says Burch Middle School in Mingo County will have an outside professional serve as an administrator until the school year ends June 12.

West Virginia Morning
West Virginia Public Broadcasting / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

 Addiction to heroin is a difficult cross to bear for many seeking treatment, but they also have hope. Although Concord University senior Shawnee Carnett’s last steps in outdoor 800 meter came up a bit short of another national championship, her college track and field career make her the most decorated athlete ever to hit the halls there. Over the Memorial Day weekend in north-central West Virginia a lot of skin was on display in one restaurant but, it might not be the skin you’re thinking about. 


Ashton Marra / West Virginia Public Broadcasting

Legislation to regulate and improve the training of nurses who collect forensic evidence in sexual assault cases has passed in both the West Virginia Senate and House.
The Senate passed the bill Thursday to create a Sexual Assault Forensic Examination Commission to regulate these specially-trained registered nurses at the county and state levels.