Delaware Gov. Jack Markell has named Widener University School of Law Associate Provost and Dean Linda L. Ammons
to lead an independent review into the state's policies and procedures relating to sexual assault cases, in the wake of a southern Delaware pediatrician being accused of sexually assaulting his patients.
The governor made his announcement Wednesday, Jan. 13 at a press conference in the public-service wing of the Delaware campus. He was joined by state Sen. Brian Bushweller, chair of the Senate Public Safety Committee and Delaware Rep. Larry Mitchell, chair of the House Public Safety and Homeland Security Committee in calling for the review to examine where critical improvements are necessary.
“The bottom line is that the system failed these children. I am asking Dean Ammons to take an independent look at why this systemic failure occurred, and asking that she make recommendations that will foster a child protection community of collaboration and accountability, so that we can make the necessary improvements to protect our children from predators,” the governor said. “This situation demands tough questions and real answers. Together, we intend to get them.”
The dean is expected to consult with recognized experts in criminal justice, sexual assault and child protection to assist her in her review, as well as look at best practices in formulating her recommendations, which will be put into a final report for the governor and the legislature. The volunteer post will not change her status as dean.
“I have agreed to undertake this review at Gov. Markell’s request because it presents an opportunity to help improve a system that cannot leave its children – its most vulnerable citizens – without adequate protections,” Dean Ammons said. “This call to public service is in keeping with our core values at Widener, where students are encouraged to use their educations and talents in ways that contribute to the communities we serve, in order to make them better places. I appreciate the confidence Gov. Markell has shown by asking me to lead this review and I welcome the chance to help make the First State safer, particularly for children.”
Markell thanked the dean for her willingness to serve. “And I want to thank all the people at Widener Law School for sharing your dean with us,” he said.