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Attorney, victim's advocate say political ad showing woman screaming during robbery was retraumatizing

Attorney, victim's advocate say political ad was retraumatizing
Attorney, victim's advocate say political ad was retraumatizing 03:37

CHICAGO (CBS) -- We first showed video of a woman being attacked on a North Center community sidewalk because the robbers were wanted for a dozen other attacks.

But then, the video went to another level when the woman became the center of a political ad. And we have now learned the woman was never contacted to be a part of the advertisement.

As CBS 2 Political investigator Dana Kozlov reported Thursday, this issue has been controversial – and has been raising concerns from a victim's advocate.

Kozlov left the victim a note earlier this week, asking if she would be willing to discuss the ad and attack. She was not. But her attorney called and said the ad and lack of notice made her feel further victimized.

Meanwhile, the man behind that ad stands by it.

The ad shows a woman being attacked on Seeley Avenue near Hamlin Park on Sunday, Sept. 4. The ad began airing last weekend, and with it came complaints and criticism.

"One of the issues that we're focusing on is the Safe-T Act," said Dan Proft.

Proft is the man behind the political action committee People Who Play By The Rules, which made the ad. The ad shows the attack in its entirety, and the victim's screams are clear.

The victim's attorney, Tom Leinenweber, said the experience and ad have been very hard on his client – and neither Proft nor his PAC ever contacted her before releasing the ad.

Victims' advocates call that – and the ad itself – abhorrent.

"I think it's distressing to see a victim's trauma used as collateral damage in a political ad," said Amanda Pyron, executive director of The Network, which fights to end domestic violence and violence against women.

Pyron said the use of the video in the ad essentially revictimizes the victim – especially with no notice, or even a courtesy call.

"What I'm most concerned about is that this hasn't just retraumatized the victim in this instance – it's retraumatized victims across our state," she said.

Kozlov: "Do you feel that you should have, though, tried to reach out to, and at least contact, the victim."

Proft: "I have no way of getting a hold of the victim. I am not looking into interfere with her life or any other life – anybody else's life."

Kozlov: "But don't you feel by airing this ad that you have interfered with her life, because she certainly feels that way?"

Proft: "This is public domain. News stations put it in the public domain."

Proft was referring to the video's use, although limited, in a prior CBS 2 story after police confirmed the same suspects are wanted in connection with about a dozen other attacks.

"I think political exploitation of victims is very different from the reporting of news," Pyron said.

But Pyron said it is always worth an ethical discussion.

And Proft?

Kozlov: "I'm here to talk to you about if you feel that it was the right thing to do ethically to use that video in an ad without getting the victim's permission, considering victims' advocates…"

Proft: "I don't need their permission."

Kozlov: "I know you don't need it legally, but ethically – considering victims' advocates also say that its use – the use of that video – was abhorrent in this purpose."

Proft: "Like I said, when everybody's sensibilities are such that they're not going to broadcast acts of violence, then you can come back and talk to me. But until then, nope."

We chose not to air the ad or the video in its entirety for this report. The victim of the attack does not wish to be identified.

No one was in custody in connection with the attack as of Thursday evening, police said.

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