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WEB EXTRA: Women's Center for Advancement expert addresses LeGrone verdict and sexual consent

Sara Eliason is the Prevention & Education Director with WCA
Posted at 7:17 PM, Apr 15, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-15 20:52:13-04

OMAHA, Neb. (KMTV) — On Thursday morning former Husker football player, Katerian LeGrone was acquitted of sexual assault charges in Lancaster County court. He was tried for an incident that law enforcement said took place on August 25, 2019.

3 News Now reporter, Jon Kipper was in Lincoln for a press conference with LeGrone and his attorneys, John Berry and Mallory Hughes. The lawyers said that their defense included an argument that LeGrone’s accuser did not withdraw consent or physically resist.

In an extended interview with 3 News Now, Sara Eliason, Prevention & Education Director with Women’s Center for Advancement (WCA) said that in Nebraska an element of the law dealing with consent is that the victim must clearly resist the sexual advance, either verbally or physically.

“They do acknowledge that it can be either verbal or physical because I think sometimes when we talk about consent, especially when we’re training on it, we talk about the ‘yes means yes, no means no, ‘but when you think about actual sexual encounters it’s very rare that we see people actually say, ‘Hey, is it okay if I kiss you here?’" said Eliason. "...and so the law does kind of cover that and including not just verbal, but also physical refusal.”

Eliason said the law can be vague and that it’s important to look at the specifics of each situation.

“I think when we think about the definition of consent it’s important to keep in mind that what the legal definition is, is kind of our bare minimum, right. It’s covering the very bare minimum of what needs to happen,” Eliason said.

She emphasized the importance of communication in healthy sexual relationships.

“So, defining consent I think is always kind of tricky because there’s the legal definition, but it can be so much more than that to really be engaging in a very – more positive, more interactive way,” Eliason added.

She went on to discuss:

  • Whether or not someone can consent if they’re intoxicated
  • Respecting boundaries in an intimate relationship and knowing that boundaries can change
  • False reports of sexual assaults are 2-8%
  • Misunderstandings about consent in sexual relationships
  • Societal changes around sexual assault awareness since the “Me Too” movement

The WCA also works with male victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, human trafficking and stalking. Eliason said that fewer men come forward because of stigma and because it isn’t discussed as widely in society. She said that WCA and Heartland Family Services are two agencies that provide services for male survivors.

The WCA has a 24/7 hotline for survivors: 402-345-7273

If an assault is recent Eliason recommends the victim immediately go to a hospital where evidence can be collected and the victim can receive immediate support. She also suggested that victims reach out to whoever feel like a safe person for them.

In a follow-up Eliason wrote, "I was a bit off on my response, only about 25% of assaults are reported to the police, not 40% as I said."

She suggests for more information and statistics.

Eliason also has suggestions for parents of students heading off to college:

  • Parents need to have open and honest conversations with both male and female students.
  • Give space for students to ask questions and not feel as if adults will be judgmental.
  • Talk about what consent and respectful relationships should look like.

“As awkward and uncomfortable as it can be, talk to your students or find someone who can,” said Eliason.

She said that a simple Google search can help parents and guardians find resources for starting conversations about healthy and respectful sexual relationships.

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