Tell Mayor Gatsas All Sexual Assault is Severe
As women of varied ages and backgrounds who are mothers, sisters, daughters and residents of Manchester, we are writing to express our shock over your clear misunderstanding of the severity of any incident of sexual assault and why we expect better from the Mayor of our city.
On June 23rd, 2017, when asked by a Union Leader reporter about the rape of a student at West High School on September 30, 2015, you stated that you “didn’t know the severity of it.”
Police Chief Nick Willard and former Deputy Superintendent David Ryan have each publicly stated that they personally informed you on the day of and in the days immediately following the incident that a female student had alleged she was the victim of a rape at West High School.
When asked on June 26, 2017 by WMUR whether you knew about the rape, you replied that you “had been informed by email of a sexual assault, but at no point did anyone tell me of the severity of it. It could be a minor thing, a sexual harassment. It could have been someone forcing a kiss on someone or someone touching someone.”
While it is impossible to imagine that Chief Willard and former Deputy Superintendent Ryan are all mistaken or lying about their recollections of what they told you, please know that for the over 55,000 women who live in the city of Manchester, any form of sexual assault is severe. For you, the Mayor of our city, to think and say otherwise demonstrates an appalling lack of understanding and empathy that is unacceptable.
We can’t help but notice that the decision to keep this sexual assault hidden from the parents of West High students was made just a few weeks before the 2015 election for Mayor.
In the wake of any incident of sexual assault, it is critical that the Mayor of Manchester send a message that unwanted sexual contact of any kind is serious. It is a crime. There is no excuse. And there are no acceptable levels or degrees of sexual assault.
Martha West Lyman
McKenzie St. Germain
Mary Lynn Edwards
Allison B. Nussbaum
Marcia J Lorang