Sex Workers Call Out Bay Area Women Against Rape

This week, the East Bay Express detailed how a mother seeking help for her vulnerable daughter turned to Patrick Mims at Bay Area Women Against Rape (BAWAR), a federal award-winning anti-sex trafficking agency. But then Mims used his professional position to engage in a sexual relationship, which even BAWAR recognizes as a form of sexual assault.

Photo credit: ABC.au

Photo credit: ABC.au

The mother subsequently made a police complaint, and wrote to the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, copying BAWAR's executive director. But nothing ever came of her letter or the police report. Mims was never punished, was allowed to leave BAWAR in July 2014, and he now works for the Contra Costa County Probation Department where he is again being allowed access to a vulnerable population.

The mother wasn’t BAWAR’s first victim. “I was assaulted and raped by a repeat predator,” said Ms R. “And Oakland PD’s Special Victims Unit recommended I get counselling at BAWAR. But when I met with Patrick Mims, he said that it was my fault I was raped and assaulted because I am a sex worker. He shamed me. He was clear: ‘rehabilitate yourself or else.’ I never went back after that session, but I’m sure I wasn’t the only person he abused. But it appears there is no way to report inappropriate behaviour by a rape crisis counsellor.”

“We wrote letters, emails and left messages with the California Emergency Management Agency and the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault about Patrick Mim’s appalling behaviour toward Ms R,” said Maxine Doogan, President of ESPLERP. “But we got no response. In practice, state legislation like Proposition 35 creates incentives for non-profits like BAWAR to tag along on police anti-prostitution sting operations to supposedly rescue trafficking victims. Then they are arrested for prostitution, and this older man acts in the capacity of a ‘peer to peer counsellor.’ This is creepy. It is a serious conflict of interest and completely inappropriate, not to mention against the public’s safety.”

BAWAR’s IRS 990 form shows that it received over $600,000 in government grants in 2014; nearly 90% of its income. And between 2009 and 2014, it took in more than $3 million. These are significant numbers. But there is no transparency; it is almost impossible to determine where that money goes; there is no breakdown of expenses or payments to executives. And there is no oversight—such as an explicit set of professional standards, or open complaints procedures. BAWAR, like many anti-trafficking and rape crisis organisations, operates completely under the radar.

Read the full AVN article here: http://goo.gl/Kc5NK2