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Lawrence Considers Requiring Sex Assault Training for Bar Workers

Lawrence city leaders may start requiring training for bar workers to spot sexual harassment and assault. 

The training involves intervening when workers see signs of a sex crime. The commission is hearing some resistance from bars that say it should be voluntary, and that their staff have high turnover.

It also heard from Dawn Hawkins, a mother who said training is needed. Hawkins said she found her daughter drugged and outdoors in extreme cold.

“On new year’s eve on this year, my 24-year-old daughter was drugged at a downtown Lawrence bar. Had I not had a mother’s instinct that something was wrong with my daughter that night, she would have died.”

Some tavern operators worry about full-staff trainings that would mean closing their bars for hours. They want the city to consider a voluntary option that could be offered regularly at another venue, so bars can send a few employees at a time.

A few sex crimes are reported at Lawrence bars each year.

Philip Bradley is CEO of the Kansas Licensed Beverage Association.

“We also understand that many are not reported and we can do more to help with that. And we’re willing to work with them to help with that. But we’d like to see us start at a place that’s less than mandatory training out of the gate.”

The city is still hammering out the proposal. Lots of details are in the air, like whether it should just apply to managers, or all employees.


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