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LI businesses, groups form consortium against sexual assault

Laura Ahearn, Suffolk Crime Victims Center executive director,

Laura Ahearn, Suffolk Crime Victims Center executive director, on Oct. 14, 2016. The center is leading a consortium announced at a Hauppauge news conference on Friday. Credit: Jeff Bachner

Long Island businesses joined forces Friday with labor groups and education leaders to raise awareness about sexual assault.

The newly formed Long Island Sexual Violence Prevention and Response Consortium — which comes amid the nationwide “Me Too” movement that empowers women to discuss sexual abuse — is spearheaded by the Suffolk Crime Victims Center.

The center, which provides services and referrals for victims of violent crimes, also has a contract with Suffolk to perform in-home verification of sex offenders’ residences.

Laura Ahearn, executive director of the center, said the consortium, composed of 40 local and national firms that do business on Long Island, has pledged to take steps to raise awareness about sexual violence.

The goals include creating a public service announcement to support sexual prevention initiatives, hosting seminars, creating electronic signs or distributing flyers and brochures to employees, customers and vendors.

“Most of these items are of no cost. If a company wants to make more of an investment that would be up to them,” Ahearn said during a news conference in Hauppauge with elected officials from Nassau and Suffolk. “But we are only asking them to join us as a consortium to help us raise awareness to prevent sexual abuse.”

Lt. Gov. Kathy Hochul said the consortium sends “a bold statement” that workplace sexual harassment and violence will no longer be tolerated.

“We are experiencing a seismic societal shift in how women are viewed in society but in particular the workplace,” Hochul said.

Sen. Phil Boyle (R-Bay Shore) said the consortium will “go a long way toward protecting the victims of sexual violence.”

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.

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