Rape survivor wants Franken's name off bill

Abby Honold had trouble getting police to pay attention to her rape case.
Abby Honold worked with Sen. Al Franken on an upcoming bill to fund special training for law enforcement officers interviewing trauma victims. But those plans changed after sexual misconduct allegations against Franken surfaced.
Mark Zdechlik | MPR News 2017

Updated 4 p.m. Saturday | Posted 12:59 p.m. Friday

A Minnesota woman and rape survivor who worked with Sen. Al Franken to write a bill to help fellow survivors is looking now for another lawmaker to take up the cause in the wake of sexual misconduct allegations against Franken.

Abby Honold, 22, was raped by a fellow University of Minnesota student in 2014. Her rapist, who had interned for Franken, was sentenced to six years in prison after pleading guilty in 2016.

After the sentence, Honold approached Franken about legislation that would establish federal grants for trauma-informed training for law enforcement and help guide how investigators and first responders interview victims.

Franken took on the legislation and has been pushing for it in the Senate.

Honold, though, said she was taken aback after reading Thursday that Franken was accused of forcibly kissing a Los Angeles radio anchor and was photographed reaching out to grope her while she slept during a 2006 USO tour, before he became a senator.

"Of course, I was very shocked and surprised, disappointed for sure," Honold told MPR News Friday. "My first thought was the legislation that we had been working on and that people would be kind to the woman speaking out, because that's something I care very much about."

Honold said she hopes the bill will not be delayed and will find another sponsor.

"I want the bill to be successful," she said. "I want the bill to be championed by someone who is not being investigated for this kind of conduct.

"And I want it to be able to through on a relatively similar timeline because it is so essential to me that this legislation is able to go through and be able to help so many victims of sexual assault across the country."

Honold said she talked with Franken's office which promised to continue helping move the bill forward and find another legislative office to take the lead.

On Saturday, Honold talked with U.S. Sen. Amy Klobuchar and said the senator agreed to become the bill's lead sponsor.

"I think that Sen. Klobuchar would be an amazing person to be able to help with this legislation," Honold said. "She's been a great champion for women and she's right here in Minnesota which is important to me as well."

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