Challenges sexual assault victims face when coming forward with allegations

Published: Apr. 16, 2021 at 5:56 PM CDT
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GREEN BAY, Wis. (WBAY) - For victims of sexual assault, the hardest thing they can hear from a loved one is whether their accusations are true. It’s feeling that advocates say puts them on the defense and may close them off.

“For parents and for loved ones, and neighbors, and friends of children, you need to receive that disclosure very empathically and you need to take it very seriously,” Camille Cooper, vice president of public policy at the Rape, Abuse and Incest National Network, said.

According to Cooper, the majority of children are sexually assaulted by someone they know.

“Children are very reluctant to come forward. They’re afraid they’re going to get in trouble. They’re afraid mom or dad might get really mad at them,” Cooper said.

The Sexual Assault Center in Green Bay is a resource for victims of any age and/or gender.

“It is so critical that the victim is in charge of the next step because that sexual assault took away that control, and we want to empower survivors,” Program Supervisor Samantha Jurczykowski said.

The organization has a 24/7 hotline where victims can report assaults and remain anonymous if they choose. Advocates for sexual assault survivors contend that victims often blame themselves and feel embarrassed.

“If someone ever tells you that something happened, you always start by believing them,” Jurczykowski said. “Less than five percent of allegations of sexual assault turn out to be false.”

This week Green Bay second grade teacher David Villareal, 46, of Sheboygan was arrested and charged with two counts of sexual assault and one count of repeated acts of sexual assault.

None of the organizations interviewed are involved in this case.

Villareal worked as a bilingual at Baird Elementary School and court documents showed a parent filed a complaint with the principal and district during the 2016-2017 school year for his alleged inappropriate behavior.

In a statement, Green Bay Area Public Schools stated the principal conducted an investigation and reported the complaint to Brown County Child Protective Services.

CPS told Action 2 News in an email, “while we cannot confirm nor deny the existence of any client or case in our system without specific authorization to do so, we can say that we follow all Federal, State and Local laws, rules and regulations regarding receiving and investigating reports of child abuse and/or neglect.”

Below is a full copy of the district’s statement.

The Green Bay Area Public School District is cooperating with the Green Bay Police Department regarding the allegations of inappropriate contact between bilingual teacher David Villareal and former students at Baird Elementary School. The criminal report cited a previous allegation against Mr. Villareal in the 2016-2017 school year. Principal Michael Sheean had conducted an investigation into a complaint against Mr. Villareal. The steps taken by the District following the investigation were in accordance with District policy.

As a mandatory reporter of child maltreatment, Principal Sheean appropriately reported the complaint to Brown County Child Protective Services (CPS) per Board of Education policy and State law. Upon receipt of the complaint, CPS would have made the determination as to whether to involve law enforcement.

Lori Blakeslee, Director of Communications and Public Relations at Green Bay Area Public Schools

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