By Ronnie Biemans, Dec 15 2016 03:00PM
Several weeks ago, I found myself reading a compelling and heart-rending front page story in the Washington Post entitled "A Seven Year Search for Justice", the story of Danielle Hicks-Best and her difficult life journey after being sexual assaulted at the age of 11.
As I read the story I felt myself growing more and more outraged at her abuse and violation at such a young age and at the travesty of justice that would allow a young girl to be charged and treated as a criminal for reporting sexual assaults. Her recollection and reporting of the crimes were not believed despite the undeniable physical evidence of recent sexual trauma and her age. She was treated as a false reporter. As a result of poor advice and a systemic mishandling of her case, Danielle was declared a ward of the court and was in and out of juvenile facilities and secure treatment centers for years. Danielle was victimized not only by those who assaulted her but also by the system that failed to believe her, took her away from her family, and failed to provide effective and appropriate treatment. We have to do better.