Murdered Peace Corps Volunteer Remembered in Capitol Hill Vigil


Jessica Smochek, who was raped in 2005 while serving in Bangledesh, never met Kate. But said she knows her strength and courage through the Puzey family.

"I may not have met Kate, but her courage to stand up for those without a voice inspires me," said Smochek. "Volunteers who are survivors share a common bond."

As part of the "20/20" report, ABC News Chief Investigative Correspondent Brian Ross also interviewed six former Peace Corps volunteers, including Smochek, who were raped or sexually assaulted while serving as volunteers. Five of the six were extremely unhappy with how Peace Corps treated them, saying they even felt blamed by the organization for "bringing on" the attacks.

CLICK HERE to watch an interview with Peace Corps volunteers who were sexually assaulted.

In the wake of the ABC News report, the House Foreign Affairs Committee scheduled hearings on the issue of how Peace Corps handles victims of sexual assault and rape.

The hearings are scheduled for March 30 and 31. David Puzey, Kate's brother, said he and his parents and a group they've formed called Kate's Voice are working with the Peace Corps and members of Congress to address the problem of sexual assault against volunteers.

"We're looking at proposals for legislation that would protect volunteers who are whistleblowers," said David. "We're also looking at proposals for how volunteers are supported should they become victims of violence but survive."

Puzey said Kate's Voice is also exploring legislation that will support grieving families after their loved ones have been killed during their Peace Corp service.

Prior to the vigil the Puzeys met with Sen. Jonny Isakson, R-Georgia, and Rep. Ted Poe, R-Texas, and Sen. Patrick Leahy, D-Vermont, to discuss proposed legislation and the upcoming congressional hearings.

"We hope and expect that the Peace Corps will continue to work with us," said Lois Puzey, "to see that legislation is passed to protect future volunteers and support victims of violence."

"The Peace Corps has already begun to implement changes," said Puzey, "and I applaud their first steps."

Dick Day, Peace Corps Regional Director for Africa, appeared at the vigil and spoke of Kate's contributions to the Peace Corps, Benin and the world.

"Kate was a beloved volunteer who gave so much of herself to her village in Benin. She was devoted to the young women in her community. Kate was a catalyst for change. She was a hero, she was a bright light."

"Kate's legacy will be to always do the right thing even if it's difficult," said her brother David. "Standing up for the right thing can be hard and can put you inarm's way but that's how you make the world a better place."

Click Here for the Blotter Homepage.

-- This embed didnt make it to copy for story id = 13131689.
  • 1
  • |
  • 2
Join the Discussion
blog comments powered by Disqus
You Might Also Like...