Abby Honold, a Minnesota rape survivor who gained national attention for her work to improve the way police handle rape cases, has been appointed to the state Sentencing Guidelines Commission.
Gov. Tim Walz appointed Honold to a four-year term, effective April 23. The 24-year-old will become one of only three public representatives on the 11-member body. It also includes judges, lawyers and law enforcement officers.
“It’s a really good opportunity to positively impact the criminal justice system here in Minnesota,” said Honold, who has advocated for trauma-informed police training since her 2014 rape by a fellow University of Minnesota student. In the aftermath, she became an outspoken critic of the Minneapolis Police Department and its mishandling of the case.
Her appointment comes two weeks after Mayor Jacob Frey and Chief Medaria Arradondo vowed to overhaul the city’s handling of sexual assault investigations, outlining a new policy that requires officers to place a priority on victims’ well-being.
“I feel very honored that [victims have] been given a voice in that space,” she said Thursday. “I’m not sure if it’s been valued previously. So I really hope that’s a good sign the reforms will start to bring success to sex crimes cases and more justice for survivors.”
Honold was a key source in the Star Tribune’s “Denied Justice” series, which exposed widespread failures in the investigation and prosecution of sexual assaults across Minnesota.
Honold says she hopes if law enforcement agencies shift toward a more compassionate approach, they might see success stories like in West Valley City, Utah — where the percentage of sexual assault cases that ended with a conviction went from 6% to 22%.
“I think that’s definitely within reach in Minnesota,” she said. “We have the tools to do it; we just need to come together and make sure we’re putting all the effort we can in police investigations.”