Re: “Seattle police stopped investigating new adult sexual assaults this year, memo shows” [June 1, Local News]:

It’s alarming to see the Seattle Police Department has stopped assigning detectives to new cases of adult sexual assault. As a representative of Washington Against Sexual Exploitation, or WASE Forward, we are deeply concerned about a similar de-prioritization of sex trafficking investigations. Seattle was once nationally recognized for progressive work to prevent sexual exploitation, but now the High-Risk Victims Unit investigating sex trafficking crimes is also understaffed. Sex traffickers and buyers are now operating with impunity due to lack of enforcement, and Aurora Avenue North has exploded into a place where oppressed and marginalized people are being sexually exploited, with little or no accountability or connection to services.

This change can have serious consequences for both sexual assault and sex trafficking victims in the future. Survivors may lose faith in receiving justice, and this can decrease the number of people who report their abusers, all while perpetrators are not held accountable. This is a big step backward.

The city of Seattle needs to re-prioritize investigating sex crimes and hold perpetrators accountable.

Chiyedza Mvundura, program coordinator, WASE Forward & Businesses Ending Slavery & Trafficking, Seattle