UC Irvine Sexual Assault Survivors Getting New Resources

Professors Kathleen Treseder and James Randerson. Photo courtesy Crime Survivors

Thanks to UC Irvine Professors Kathleen Treseder and James Randerson, there are now more resources available at the university for people who’ve been sexually assaulted. Their Treseder Randerson Fund, created earlier this year from settlement money Treseder received from UC Irvine over former Professor Francisco Ayala’s repeated sexual harassment of her, will now be administered through the Irvine-based nonprofit resource center Crime Survivors.

“They have a lot of great information to pass onto victims,” Treseder said. “Tips on finding an attorney, how to talk to the media. I had to kind of wing it when I was going through this. For instance, no one told me that when I made my complaint, I was entitled to a state-funded advocate. I would have loved that!”

Treseder is a professor of ecology and evolutionary biology. Randerson, her husband, is the Ralph J. and Carol M. Cicerone Professor of Earth System Science. (Click here for more background on what Treseder went through at UCI.)

One of the most important services Crime Survivors will now offer to those at UC Irvine is greater access to an attorney. Treseder said that when she was making her complaint, she had one no-cost meeting with an attorney to decide if that was the person she wanted to hire. But now, her fund will make it possible for victims to have multiple no-cost meetings with an attorney before having to decide whether that’s the person who should represent them.

Crime Survivors provides victims a variety of support services and resource guides. They include legal advocacy services, self-defense classes and victim emergency bags, which are distributed through police and fire departments and include items like prepaid phone cards for adults and stuffed animals for children.

“We’re so proud of Kathleen for being so courageous and brave and strong,” said Patricia Wenskunas, the founder and CEO of Crime Survivors. “We’re so honored that she chose our organization to help those at UC Irvine.”

Though the Treseder Randerson Fund only pledged the money last week, and it will take time to print new campus-specific inserts for Crime Survivors’s OC Resource Guide, Wenskunas says her organization already stands ready to help. “We just got the funding, so we’ve set up some meetings,” she said. “But if anyone calls today, we can support them. I’ve already received two calls.”

This is exactly what Treseder hoped for.

“I feel I’m relatively privileged for someone who goes through this, and I still didn’t know about these resources,” Treseder said. “What about a student who has just moved here? How could they possibly navigate this on their own? I get contacted by someone at UCI every week, every other week. They don’t have to rely solely on what UCI supplies. I now send them to Crime Survivors.”

If you’re the victim of sexual assault at UC Irvine or anywhere in Orange County, you can reach Crime Survivors by phone (844-853-HOPE), email (info@crimesurvivors.org) or online at Crimesurvivors.org.

Anthony Pignataro has been a journalist since 1996. He spent a dozen years as Editor of MauiTime, the last alt weekly in Hawaii. He also wrote three trashy novels about Maui, which were published by Event Horizon Press. But he got his start at OC Weekly, and returned to the paper in 2019 as a Staff Writer.

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