Recent Statements

Statement for May 10th Board Meeting

On April 28, 2022, a staff member of the Advocacy Center of Winona visited Riverway Learning Academy to deliver a scheduled training on “Healthy Relationships”. This is a training the Advocacy Center regularly administers to a variety of age groups at partner schools. The Center has worked on these trainings for many years, with the intent to teach children about healthy relationships. The overall goal of these type of trainings is to prevent sexual assault and domestic abuse.

Unbeknownst to supervising staff, the advocate scheduled to train on the 28th, distributed materials which had not been approved by the Winona Advocacy Center as part of the Health Relationships curriculum.

These materials distributed during the session have never been utilized as part of ANY of our Advocacy trainings, and were absolutely not age appropriate. Due to this, the staff and Board of the Winona Advocacy Center extend our sincerest apologies to the children, parents, families, and educators who received the unapproved pamphlet. 

The work the Advocacy Center does for the community to empower victims and survivors of not only domestic violence but also sexual assault is essential to the Winona community. The Center relies on the trust of our community that we will be diligent and conscientious in our work for the betterment of our clients and their families. For many community members, this incident may have eroded your trust in our organization, and for that we apologize. More importantly we will take accountability for this incident. The employee involved in this situation will not be delivering anymore trainings whatsoever, and the staff and the Board of Directors of the Center will re-assess the curriculum and delivery of the workshops and our overall messaging will be consistently aligned going forward.

We thank the Winona Community for your grace and understanding, but more importantly, for holding us accountable for our actions. We look forward to the opportunity to regain your trust and to continue our partnership with the county and other institutions, to prevent and educate appropriately about domestic violence and sexual assault.

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May 18th Winona Post Article

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May 18th Letter to the Commissioners

Dear County Commissioners,

For the past two weeks, the Advocacy Center of Winona (ACW) has been handling a serious complaint from the community regarding an unapproved pamphlet being utilized in one of our consent-based community educational presentations. Following standardized protocol for employee violations, we addressed this issue internally, and the employee has been terminated.

 The core mission of the Advocacy Center is to empower victims/survivors of sexual assault and domestic violence. The ACW is the sole provider of sexual and domestic violence victim services within the entire county, under MN Statute. These services and advocacy are essential for not only the safety, but essential livelihood of victims and survivors. The center operates with a small staff to meet the complex needs of individuals who have been assaulted or are currently fleeing a violent situation. Often these individuals are trying get both themselves and their children out of a dangerous situation.

Winona County only funds these critical services, which allow individuals to seek justice, therapy, or a safe homestead when no other option is available. The vast majority of the ACW’s revenue is restricted. ACW funds are overseen by the board of directors to ensure accountability and proper use of funds. The termination of County support would be a detriment to our community’s victims and survivors of sexual and domestic violence.

In addition to terminating the employee who distributed unapproved materials, ACW staff have addressed the community, the schools, and all major stakeholders. We have scaled back our community engagement to refine our messaging and internal training. We are evaluating staff onboarding and training to be a more effective community partner.

At this time, we wish to assure the County Board that all County funding has and will continue to be used for its intended purpose: assisting victims and survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault. We ask the County to keep this in mind as you proceed with funding decisions.

Thank you for your time, consideration, and support of essential services to victims of violence in our County.


The Advocacy Center of Winona Board of Directors and Executive Director

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If you have further questions, here is a free legal resource in MN, open to all individuals, where you can call and ask any legal questions regarding abuse and neglect including mandated reporting. The attorneys at Standpoint have detailed knowledge of the statutes that constitute sexual violence, domestic violence, stalking and neglect.