Maintaining Highest Values, North Carolina Air National Guard Upholds Zero Tolerance for Sexual Assault Published April 30, 2014 By Master Sgt. Patricia F. Moran 145th Public Affairs CHARLOTTE, NC -- In the United States April marks Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). During SAAM activists raise awareness about sexual violence and educate communities and individuals on how to prevent it. The SAAM theme this year is "Live Our Values: Step Up to Stop Sexual Assault." What does this mean to you? As Airmen we are expected to live up to our core values every day, all year long. We all have a role in preventing sexual assaults. We should "Step Up" by intervening when appropriate, report any crimes and support the victims. Capt. Catheran Rodriguez, primary Sexual Assault Response Coordinator for the North Carolina Air National Guard stated, "This organization always puts our Air Force Core values at the center of everything we do." She went on to explain, "Our leadership is focused on creating a professional culture where sexual assault will not be tolerated at any level. As the SARC, I make a vital effort to make our airmen aware that there is someone you can turn to, that leadership can be trusted and that they will NOT look the other way." Throughout the month of April, SARC and Victim Advocates for the NCANG are distributing informational cards about sexual assaults and reporting options to unit members. On Friday, April 25th the NCANG will show their support for the prevention of sexual assault by participating in Denim Day. Denim Day is an international protest to an Italian Supreme Court's overruling of a rape conviction in 1998. An Italian woman was raped and when the case went to trial the jury found the assailant guilty. The Supreme Court later overturned the ruling saying that "jeans are too difficult to remove so the assailant could not have done so without the victim's help, therefore it was considered "consensual sex." This ruling sparked widespread protest. The day after the decision, women in the Italian Parliament protested by wearing jeans and holding placards that read "Jeans: An Alibi for Rape." As a sign of support, the California Senate and Assembly followed suit. Soon Patricia Giggans, Executive Director of the Los Angeles Commission on Assaults Against Women, (Now Peace Over Violence) made Denim Day an annual event. As of 2011 at least 20 U.S. states officially recognize Denim Day as an international symbol of protest against erroneous and destructive attitudes about sexual assault. For more information please do not hesitate to call Capt. Rodriguez and Maj. Karen Tedesco, NCANG SARCs, who can be reached on a confidential cell phone at 704-806-8678. A Victim Advocate on duty can also be reached on a confidential cell phone at 704-806-9608. Victim Advocates include Senior Master Sgt. Pam Goard and Kathy Earley, Master Sgts. Bob Bensley, Shannon Pendegraph, Hope Crockett, Kathy Johnson, Michelle Smith and Latrice Harms. There is no place in our organization for sexual assault; it just that simple.