Women criticize Roanoke police chief over remarks on rape victims

Comments in City Council meeting respond to Jones' Feb. 19 statements

ROANOKE, Va.Update: 5:45 p.m.:
A Roanoke police spokeswoman said Monday that Jones is working on a statement on the response to his Feb. 19 comments, but it will not be released Monday.

Original story, 5:30 p.m. March 4:

People voiced more criticism Monday of Roanoke Police Chief Tim Jones.

Women held a sign outside the municipal building that said “We support survivors,” and later, a group of about ten women stood in support of comments opposing Jones in the afternoon City Council session.

Many women said the chief’s comments upset them and believe they were unfair to rape victims. They’re calling for Jones to apologize, and some are calling for him to resign.

It's what he chose to say in the Feb. 19 City Council meeting that upset some people. Council members asked why there were more reported cases of rape in 2018 compared to 2017, and he responded by focusing on the actions of rape victims.

“All too many young women put themselves at risk when alcohol and social behavior goes bad, and that’s what we are seeing the greatest in our investigations,” Jones said Feb. 19.

Women came forward Monday to say his comments were victim-shaming and shouldn't be tolerated.

“It's hurtful, and it will guilt them and shame them, and we're supposed to have a good relationship with our police,” Elizabeth Axley said outside the municipal building.

Catherine Koebel, with the group Roanoke Indivisible, outlined a few areas where she feels Jones is misguided. She and Brienne Nida feel comments from police should be focusing on the offenders.

“When Chief Jones makes statements like this, it lets every woman know in the city of Roanoke that he does not have our back,” Nida said.

Many said they're afraid that future victims will have heard Jones’ statement and be persuaded not to report for fear they won't be believed.

“And that's what I'm afraid of, his words causing an impact that lasts a long time,” Madalyn Sullivan said.

Jones declined an interview with 10 News for this story, as he did last week on the same topic.