Media Coverage

Legal Momentum in the Media

Members of the press: contact the communications department at 212-413-7558 or

  • Date: January 20, 2017 Featured In: Revelist

    One of Donald Trump's first actions as president could be cutting federal funding for violence against women programs. The Hill reported January 20 that Trump has modeled his budget proposals off the Heritage Foundation's "Blueprint for Balance: A Federal Budget for 2017."

    The conservative think tank's budget proposal aims to shrink government spending and reduce the federal deficit. To do so, it also needs to cut government programs. Along with cutting the National Endowment for the Arts and National Endowment for the Humanities, the proposal suggests cutting all funding for Violence Against Women grants.

    The Violence Against Women grants were established by the 1994 Violence Against Women Act (VAWA)—a landmark piece of women's rights legislation, and pet project of former vice president Joe Biden.

    Among other things, VAWA made interstate domestic violence a federal crime, and established the federal Office of Violence against Women. Since VAWA's passage, domestic violence rates in the U.S. have dropped 64%.

    VAWA also has 25 different anti-violence grants, which provide legal assistance for abuse survivors, housing for victims of domestic violence, and other crucial services.The Office of Violence Against Women has provided more than $4.7 billion in grants since 1995. According to attorney Lynn Hecht Schafran, senior vice president at Legal Momentum, these grants are responsible for everything from teaching judges about the effects of trauma on rape victims to providing services for sight- or hearing-impaired victims.

    Asked what would happen if funding for the VAWA grants was pulled, Schafran responded:

    "I don't think it is extreme if I say to you that women will die. Over the years of VAWA, we have brought down the number of women killed in this situation because, by having programs and safety procedures and transitional housing, we've made it possible for victims to leave these dangerous situations and make new lives. But if we do not have programs that are actively seeking ways to prevent this kind of violence, and are providing ways for endangered women and their children to be safe, women will die."

    Meanwhile, The Heritage Foundation argues that such programs are better left to the states. In its budget proposal, the foundation states that all VAWA grants should be "terminated" because their services should be funded and implemented on a local level. The budget proposal calls federal funding for anti-violence programs a "misuse of federal resources” and a "distraction from concerns that are truly the province of the federal government."

    Trump has not yet put forward his preferred budget, and it may well differ from what the Heritage Foundation proposed. But The Hill reports the foundation helped staff the Trump transition team, and that two Trump staffers were already discussing their budget plans with White House staff before the inauguration.

  • Date: January 9, 2017 Featured In: The New Yorker Magazine

    Robles-Román said, “Mary, I’m embarrassed that I didn’t believe the advocates, because I wasn’t reading about it anywhere. But, when I visited homeless shelters or schools, inevitably one student would stay afterward and say, ‘Don’t look at me—I don’t want you to know who I am—but I was trafficked.’ Why is it a secret how many children are being raped by pedophiles?”

    “The endgame,” Robles-Román said, “is getting an injustice out of our justice system.” Referring to the 1896 case that upheld the “separate but equal” doctrine, she continued, “Plessy v. Ferguson—thank God people didn’t just say, ‘Well, the Supreme Court has ruled, let’s move on.’ ”

  • Date: December 5, 2016 Featured In: Thomson Reuters Foundation News

    LONDON, Dec 1 (Thomson Reuters Foundation) - Technology has fuelled a surge in the buying and selling of children online for sexual abuse with advertising a child on the internet as "easy as booking an airfare", campaigners told an anti-slavery conference in London.

    Lawyer Carol Robles-Roman, who was deputy mayor for legal affairs to former New York Mayor Michael Bloomberg, said legal reform was urgently needed to protect children from online sexual exploitation.

  • Date: October 6, 2016 Featured In: The New York Times

    Carol Robles-Román, the president and chief executive of Legal Momentum, a women’s legal defense and education fund based in New York, said she had been lobbying for action against Backpage for two years, saying the ads it hosts were targeting children.

    Backpage describes itself as the second-largest online classified advertising service in the country, according to court records.

    “They’re like the McDonald’s of trafficking,” she said in an interview on Thursday night. “They made is so easy.”

  • Date: July 27, 2016 Featured In: Huffington Post

    Lynn Hecht Schafran, senior vice president at Legal Momentum, which advocates for abuse victims, said a rape crisis agency once contacted her about something they were writing that would’ve said it’d be good if rape victims did not have to testify at trial.

    “I told them that is not the U.S. system,” Schafran said. “They would be misleading the people they’re advocating for, and have no credibility with the folks of the legal community.”

    The U.S. judicial system is an adversarial one, experts interviewed repeatedly said, and one that obligates a defense attorney to zealously defend their client.

  • Date: July 22, 2016 Featured In: Marie Claire

    In this powerful op-ed piece, Thomson Reuters Foundation CEO Monique Villa outlines the dangers of "sextortion" and how the law needs to change to protect women and girls. The piece highlights Legal Momentum's report, "A Call to Action—Ending Sextortion in the Digital Age."

  • Date: June 7, 2016 Featured In: The Takeaway

    The six-month sentence imposed on a Stanford student athlete found guilty in a widely publicized rape case has instigated widespread public outrage. In this segment on NPR's The Takeaway, Legal Momentum's Senior Vice President and Director of the National Judicial Education Program (NJEP) Lynn Hecht Schafran discusses the case and the issues involved with host John Hockenberry. NJEP has been educating judges and other court professionals about the realities sexual assault and domestic violence, and their intersection, since 1980. 

  • Date: April 25, 2016 Featured In: Blog Talk Radio: 3 Women, 3 Ways

    Legal Momentum's Executive Vice President and Legal Director, Penny Venetis, and anthropology professor and Middle East expert Jessica Winegar discuss the similarities and differences in violence against women in the U.S. and overseas with host Heather Stark on the Blog Talk Radio "3 Women, 3 Ways" show that aired Saturday, April 23, 2016.

  • Date: March 9, 2016 Featured In: Seattle Times

    Legal Momentum's President and CEO, Carol Robles-Román and Executive Vice President and Legal Director, Penny M. Venetis, wrote a forceful op-ed in the Seattle Times calling for strong and swift action against online commercial exploitation of children.

  • Date: November 18, 2015 Featured In: The New York TImes

    “You don’t want to have a low-level manager operating off the seat of their pants,” said Penny M. Venetis, the executive vice president and legal director of Legal Momentum, a group that works on a broad range of gender equity issues, include domestic violence.

    Ms. Venetis said that sending home a worker who has been threatened by a partner was often the most dangerous response an employer could choose. The employee may be less safe alone at home than at work, and the loss of a livelihood can make abused partners even more dependent on their abusers.

    Ms. Porter “acted responsibly for reporting it,” Ms. Venetis said. “The actions Bon-Ton took discourage people from coming forward.”

  • Date: November 12, 2015 Featured In: Fordham Magazine

    Fordham Magazine profiles Carol Robles-Román's lifelong commitment to gender justice for women and girls and highlights Legal Momentum's recent achievements. Carol is a Fordham alumna.

  • Date: November 10, 2015 Featured In: (Staten Island Advance)

    "There's no reason for her to take a leave or to essentially take a demotion working in the toll booth," said Penny Venetis, the executive vice president and legal director for Legal Momentum, an advocacy organization dedicated to advancing the rights of women and girls.

    Venetis said her organization has represented DiPalo since the beginning of her case, and contended that pregnant law enforcement officers should be allowed to stay on the job until they see fit to take maternity leave.

    "If her doctor says that she can carry out her regular duties, I don't see what the issue is," she said, calling the TBTA's previous practices "primitive."

    "It's outrageous. It's 2015. It's not 1935. It really shouldn't be happening, Venetis said. "As long as they are able to do their job effectively, they should not be forced out because they are having a baby."

    Ms. DiPalo is back on patrol, Venetis said.