A Tale of Two Cases: The Importance of Believing and Supporting Sexual Assault Victims

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90 Minutes

Originally Aired
April 8, 2021

Angela Povilaitis
Angela Povilaitis, JD
Staff Policy Attorney
Michigan Domestic & Sexual Violence Prevention & Treatment Board

During this session you will hear from an experienced former sex crimes prosecutor who led the team that brought down America’s most prolific sexual perpetrator, Larry Nassar. While Nassar garnered significant international attention, the approach Povilaitis took on that case was the same approach she took on all of the cases she prosecuted while leading a VAWA-funded and first-of-its-kind in the country statewide, cold and complex sexual assault project. This included the case of the People v. Calvin Kelly, a case that she prosecuted at the same time as the Nassar case. The Kelly case involved a serial rapist truck driver who preyed upon over a dozen vulnerable and marginalized women in four states spanning over two decades, continually evading justice. Ms. Povilaitis was committed to handling all of her cases, Nassar, Kelly and others, in a trauma-informed, victim centered and offender focused manner and turned to her multidisciplinary team for continued assistance and support while building and prosecuting those cases.

Through a case comparison of the Nassar and Kelly cases and prosecutions, Ms. Povilaitis will reveal the similarities and differences between the two cases, including the societal, media, judicial and victim responses of each. Povilaitis will reveal how even when best practices are incorporated and professionals adequately trained, there is never a guaranteed result for victims. Povilaitis will cover a wide range of topics including the importance of a dedicated, highly trained, vertical prosecution of complex, multi-victim, and untested SAK/DNA cases, how best to support and provide resources and choices to victims who were scattered around the country and who are dealing with trauma uncovered decades later, highlight the areas of strength and deficiencies within the criminal justice system and discuss promising efforts and responses in Michigan to those deficiencies in an attempt to provide justice to all sexual assault victims, among other lessons learned.


As a result of this webinar, participants will be better able to:

  • Recognize the barriers to justice that exist for marginalized and underrepresented victim populations.
  • Identify key concepts in victim-centered, offender-focused and trauma-informed decision making in the context of complex, multi-victim prosecutions.
  • Identify creative strategies to create justice for all victims.


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