Nellie Fitzpatrick - Sexual Abuse Attorney

Nellie Fitzpatrick is an attorney with the firm of Laffey, Bucci and Kent LLP and has focused her career on helping crime victims navigate the civil justice system and obtain monetary compensation against perpetrators and other individuals and business entities.

Prior to her appointment, she served for six and a half years as an Assistant District Attorney for the City of Philadelphia. Nellie Fitzpatrick spent the majority of her career as a prosecutor in the Family Violence and Sexual Assault Unit, prosecuting rape, intimate partner violence, sexual assault, and child abuse (physical and sexual) cases. In addition to her responsibilities as a prosecutor, Fitzpatrick served as the LGBTQ Liaison to the District Attorney’s Office for the last 3 years of her career with the Office. She has worked closely with the Philadelphia Police Department to strengthen ties between police and the LGBTQ community by fostering mutual respect and understanding. Fitzpatrick was instrumental in the development of Directive 152, which provides guidelines for appropriate police interactions with transgender individuals, including in media accounts. This Directive is one of only a few of its kind across the nation and represents a significant step forward in the relationship between the police department and the transgender community.

While at the District Attorney’s Office, Fitzpatrick’s deeply held belief that community integration is key to improving relationships between communities and the governmental bodies that serve them motivated her to organize the inaugural LGBTQ Forum at the District Attorney’s Office. Community members and the leadership of the District Attorney’s Office and Philadelphia Police Department had the opportunity to participate in an open dialogue about community needs and the City’s efforts to build trust between the LGBT community and law enforcement. As Liaison, Fitzpatrick also helped to facilitate a three year Department of Justice/Office of Victim Services-sponsored training initiative of Victim Witness Services personnel at the District Attorney’s Office to ensure the delivery of informed and culturally competent services to LGBT victims of crime.

Fitzpatrick trained new cadets at the Police Academy on Directive 152, hate and bias crime, and LGBTQ issues and awareness. In recognition of her tremendous commitment to police training, she was approved as a civilian trainer for the Department of Justice under the Obama Administration to improve transgender competency among law enforcement professionals. Fitzpatrick has trained law enforcement, probation and parole and corrections officers at the local, state and federal levels.

Fitzpatrick is/was a subject matter expert on LGBTQ issues for the Department of Justice (Obama Administration).

Fitzpatrick has been invited to speak at various universities by including Temple Law School, Drexel University’s Thomas R. Kline School of Law, Villanova Law School and University of Pennsylvania Law School on topics ranging from intimate partner violence and sexual assault to the practice of criminal law to serving the LGBTQ communities through government action.

Fitzpatrick was appointed by former Mayor Michael A. Nutter in January 2015 to serve as the second Director of LGBTQ Affairs for the City of Philadelphia. In this role she worked directly with government officials, departments and agencies at the federal, state and local level to further develop government systems that see and protect underserved and often marginalized populations. By building deep and meaningful relationships with a diverse representation of the LGBTQ communities and allies, with a specific focus on marginalized and underserved populations, Fitzpatrick was able to help drive meaningful change within systems that regularly failed to serve and protect these communities. Through forging relationships built on trust, transparency, and service, Fitzpatrick served LGBTQ community members who not only share in being diverse in gender, gender identity and/or expression, and/or sexual orientation, but in race, color, national origin, disability, socioeconomic status, age, and religion.

Recognizing that institutionalizing the work of the Office of LGBTQ Affairs was critical to the progress of LGBTQ civil rights throughout the city of Philadelphia, Fitzpatrick led the effort to amend the City of Philadelphia’s Home Rule Charter through a ballot question to make permanent the Office of LGBTQ Affairs. The amendment passed during the November 2015 elections with almost 86,000 votes. Philadelphians voting to amend the City Charter to make permanent the Office of LGBTQ Affairs, recognizing the contributions of LGBTQ Philadelphians to the city, and ensuring LGBTQ Philadelphians have a voice in our government for decades to come was a powerful moment in Philadelphia’s history.

The Gotta Go! Guide, an interactive, Google Maps-based guide to gender-neutral bathrooms across the city was created by Fitzpatrick to help trans and gender non-conforming people locate a bathroom they can use without fear or anxiety of gender policing or violence. In October 2015, Fitzpatrick was instrumental in creating and championing legislation requiring all single-stall bathrooms in Philadelphia to be gender-neutral. Philadelphia’s City Council unanimously passed the legislation and now all bathrooms in the City of Philadelphia must be labeled as what they are, bathrooms and not gender-segregated spaces. All people deserve to safely access a restroom when they need one. This effort led to Fitzpatrick testifying before New York City Council on similar legislation for New York City.

Fitzpatrick was appointed to the Board of Trustees for the Philadelphia Prison System in 2015 and 2016. In her role as a Trustee, Fitzpatrick worked to create and implement the Philadelphia Prison Rape Elimination Act, trained Corrections Officers and leadership on LGBTQ competency and awareness and advocated for safer, more humane housing options for LGBTQ inmates.

Fitzpatrick was appointed to the advisory board of Center City Crime Victim Services where she worked to help establish an LGBTQ advocate and assist in providing LGBTQ component victim services to crime victims throughout the city of Philadelphia. In September of 2015, Fitzpatrick was also appointed to the PHL Diversity, a division of the Philadelphia Convention and Visitors Bureau, (formerly Multicultural Affairs Congress) Advisory Board. Moving forward, Fitzpatrick will champion crime victims through civil legal systems, continue institutionalizing positive change and further organize, grow, build community, fight for those who are marginalized and/or stigmatized, foster safety, demand accountability, push for true equality, and create a better world for everyone.

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Jeff Laffey Award
Paul Bucci Award
Brian Kent Award