Murphy wants improved handling of sexual assaults

DFL candidate for governor Erin Murphy outlined a plan to improve the way sexual assault are investigated in Minnesota. Tim Pugmire|MPR News

A candidate for Minnesota governor is calling for sweeping changes in the way law enforcement agencies investigate sexual assault.

State Rep. Erin Murphy, DFL-St. Paul, outlined her plan Monday in response to a Star Tribune report that sexual assaults statewide are being investigated poorly or not at all.

Murphy is the DFL-endorsed candidate for governor. She is facing Lori Swanson and Tim Walz in the Aug. 14 primary.

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Murphy is proposing uniform training requirements for police and a mandate that an investigator is assigned to every rape case.

“If someone experiences sexual violence, or when they suffer sexual violence and sexual assault, they will have confidence in law enforcement and the systems of justice that they get the relief that they seek,” Murphy said. “Right now, I don’t think that’s the case in the state of Minnesota.”

Murphy is also proposing the formation of a statewide task force to audit the investigation of sex crimes. But she said, as governor, she would act before the panel completes its work.

“There is abundant anecdotal evidence that we have a systemic problem here,” she said. “I don’t think we need to wait.”

Murphy was joined by two sexual assault survivors who recounted their experiences with police.

“I found my greatest support not from law enforcement but from fellow survivors who had also been mistreated by law enforcement,” said Abby Honold, who has pushed for better training for sexual assault investigators.