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Snyder family unveils new website at WMU sexual assault summit

Snyder family unveils new website at WMU Sexual Assault Summit. (WWMT/Matt Loughrin)

Michigan's first family was in Kalamazoo as part of an effort to combat sexual assaults on college campuses.

More than 600 people came out to the Western Michigan University held a sexual assault summit largely driven by first lady Sue Snyder.

Sue Snyder said, “We have to believe, we have to believe and I think in the past it hasn't been that way and now we are believing them we are listening we do want to help them.”

The Snyder family said at the Monday summit - especially in today's political climate - the message was louder and clearer than ever before, but there is still a lot of work that needs to be done.

The fight to end sexual assault on college campuses starts with taking survivors seriously

Governor Rick Snyder said President Donald Trump's dismissal of sexual assault allegations made against Supreme Court justice nominee Brett Kavanaugh as "totally political" are concerning.

Rick Snyder said, “I hope that it doesn't discourage or scare some people off in terms of the whole environment, again we want people to speak up and be part of this process.”

Kavanaugh has denied all claims against him, but the Governor said attacks on accusers challenge the needed culture change to prevent sexual assaults.

Lance Handlogten, a Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI) investigator, said, “Just because you delay reporting that means absolutely nothing but it's a misconception that if the person didn't come forward right away, well, I should probably question that and that's just not true.

Handlogten is a SAKI investigators at the Kalamazoo County Prosecutor's Office and he has looked into unsolved cases that stalled.

He said, “For the most part it involved the victims not wanting to move forward because they got treated so poorly.”

A former Kalamazoo Department of Public Safety officer, Handlogten said law enforcement needs more training.

Rick said, “There isn't one answer.”

He says youth need more education on what is consent and responses to reports of sexual assault must first be believed, then investigated.

Kelsey Snyder said, “It's definitely harmful, I would say, especially to her story because you never want to question anything that they are going through.”

The Snyder family fear for their daughter's safety on campus and helped inspire the summit.

Rick said, “We should be proud that in Michigan we can be role models for the rest of the country i hope including our federal government.”

Michigan invested $1 million in grant programs to determine best practices for preventing and responding to sexual assault reports on college campuses.

Sue announced the launch of a new website, Let’s End Campus Sexual Assault, which is a one-stop-shop for information and resources for sexual assault survivors.

The fourth summit on sexual assault

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