State Crime Director Laura Sudkamp recognized for victim advocacy work; Ian Sonego honored posthumously for legal advocacy
LEXINGTON, Ky.(Dec. 2, 2016) — Rep. Joni Jenkins and State Crime Lab Director Laura Sudkamp received the “Champions for Justice” Award for their work on behalf of victims of domestic violence and sexual assault today at the 18th Ending Sexual Assault and Domestic Violence Conference in Lexington.
Jenkins, who has represented Kentucky’s 44th District since 1995, has helped to secure sustainable reforms for Kentucky’s sexual assault and domestic violence survivors.
Most notably, she sponsored or co-sponsored and worked to pass legislation that:
• Created the first statewide sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE) credential in the county. SANE-qualified forensic nurses have received training to conduct evidentiary exams for rape and sexual assault victims.
• Gave mental health professionals access to sex offender pre-sentencing investigations to assure those offenders had access to treatment while incarcerated.
• Eliminated the requirement that a victim had to “physically fight off” her attacker for the offense to legally be defined as rape.
As chair of the House Budget Review Subcommittee on Human Resources, Rep. Jenkins led efforts to increase and protect funding for the state’s domestic violence and sexual assault programs, said Sherry Currens, executive director of the Kentucky Coalition Against Domestic Violence (KCADV).
“Improving the training for nurses who conduct rape and sexual assault exams has dramatically changed the way victims are treated at the hospital and strengthened prosecutions of their cases,” said Eileen Recktenwald, executive director of the Kentucky Association of Sexual Assault Programs (KASAP).
Laura Sudkamp, director of the Kentucky State Police Forensic Laboratory System, is improving the system’s prosecution of sexual assault cases, Recktenwald said. Most recently, she helped draft the SAFE ACT of 2016, which addresses the backlog of untested rape kits and puts measures in place to assure that a backlog will never occur again. Because of her leadership and work, Kentucky won a $1.8 million federal DANY grant that is expediting the testing of more than 3,000 untested rape kits, Recktenwald said.
A Champion of Justice Award was given posthumously to Ian Sonego, a career prosecutor who worked to improve the state’s laws governing the prosecution of sexual assault and domestic violence perpetrators. Sonego retired from the Kentucky Attorney General’s Office in July 2008 and worked part-time for the Prosecutors’ Advisory Council after that. He died Aug. 18, 2016.