Resolution proposed authorizing consulting services for evaluating how sexual assault cases are processed in Bethel

The City Council of Bethel will be considering a resolution that authorizes consulting services for the City Council to evaluate and improve the investigation, processing, and prosecution of reported sexual assault cases within the criminal justice system in Bethel.

“The Council needs, and the public is entitled, to a comprehensive third-party review of the full process of sexual assault reports and prosecutions, starting with their initial entry to the police department, cooperation with partner agencies, treatment of victims, and ultimate prosecution of perpetrators,” states proposed Resolution 21-07.

The resolution is being introduced by Councilman Conrad McCormick on the April 13th, 2021 council agenda.

“The City Council is elected to hold the public trust, and must take steps to ensure survivors receive justice and healing by learning and implementing the best possible investigative, processing, and prosecution standards for these difficult cases,” it continues.

The resolution authorizes and directs the City Attorney to negotiate and execute an agreement with Rachel K. Gernat for a comprehensive evaluation of how reported sexual assaults are investigated and processed, including why reported cases do not proceed to prosecution within the Bethel criminal justice system. Gernat has specialized local expertise in investigating and prosecuting sexual assault cases in the State of Alaska, including and in particular rural Alaska, with previous successful evaluation of similarly-sized organizations and/or communities on their handling of reported sexual assaults.

Following the evaluation, the contractor shall complete a written public report of the findings and recommendations, says Res. 21-07.

The item is currently on the consent agenda.

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