Franken pushes for changing interview techniques in sex assault cases

A high profile rape case at the University of Minnesota three years ago could now change the way sex assaults are investigated nationwide.

One of the victims of Daniel Drill-Mellum, who was convicted last year, approached Senator Al Franken to push for change. Abby Honold says she wants police detectives to interview sexual assault victims far differently.

“I imagine that my police interview might have been frustrating,” said Honold.

When Honold first told police in 2014 that Drill-Mellum had raped her in his University of Minnesota apartment, she says the interview didn't go well because it was so by the book.

“When I would remember a piece of information during my interview, he would stop me from sharing it because he wanted me to go in chronological order,” said Honold. “I felt myself shutting down and not wanting to talk to him anymore. I just wanted it to be over and I just wanted to go home.”

But telling her story to a trauma nurse, who used an entirely different approach by asking what she smelled and tasted, stirred memories of being choked.

“And then I immediately remembered and started talking for about 30 minutes about all this other stuff that I hadn't remembered when I was originally interviewed,” said Honold.

“Abby is a hero to me,” said Sen. Franken.

Senator Al Franken says Honold contacted him a year ago. In a strange coincidence, Drill-Mellum had interned in Franken's office in 2013. The senator is now preparing to introduce legislation in a few weeks.

“I don't want to say the Republicans I'm talking to, but I am talking to my colleagues about making this a completely bipartisan bill because there's nothing partisan about this issue,” said Franken.

The training is called "trauma-informed interviewing technique." It’s offered free of charge right now in Minnesota. Franken's bill would take that nationwide.

Honold truly believes her attacker went to prison because of the way the nurse talked to her.