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EVAWI > Resources > Making a Difference Project

In February, 2006 each MAD community team submitted information on the reform efforts they had enacted as of that time.  These summaries are provided below.  The information was then updated at the Research and Reform Summit that took place in July 2009.  The link for the updated document appears at the end of each community summary. 

Austin, Texas

Austin was one of the four “Making a Difference” (MAD) communities hosting a 2-day training workshop as part of the MAD Project in 2005. Yet a number of additional reform efforts took place both before and after this event. For example, the District Attorney’s Office in Austin has worked to develop a system of specialized prosecution.

In that system, a specialized prosecutor works at least three mornings a week in the Sex Crimes Division of the Austin Police Department, screening cases, and working with law enforcement to take the case to the Grand Jury for indictment. On the days when the specialized prosecutor is not working in the Austin Police Department, he/she is on call and available to consult with detectives regarding their sexual assault cases.

After the Grand Jury indicts, the most experienced prosecutor then takes the cases to trial and handles it through final disposition, perhaps bringing in another prosecutor to gain experience handling sexual assault cases.

Other notable achievements have been seen in the Sex Crimes Division of the Austin Police Department, where Sgt. Elizabeth Donegan has:

  • Checked with their communications center (dispatch) to determine whether officers regularly clear from sexual assault calls without documenting the incident in a formal report. After being notified that officers did in fact do this routinely, she issued a directive that all sexual assault calls will be documented in a written report. This is important because sexual assault crimes that are not documented with a report "disappear" from the system and not be further investigated or processed in any way.
  • Provided training to detectives in the unit to use more effective language and "word pictures" to capture the realistic dynamics of sexual assaults. For example, by carefully avoiding the use of language depicting consensual sex, detectives are better able to convey the reality of forcible sexual assault crimes in their report writing. This advanced in-service training was provided to all specialized detectives in the Sex Crimes Unit.
  • Advised detectives to meet with officers at the beginning of their shift three times a month, in order to discuss problems that might be encountered with particular officers who are responding to sexual assault crimes and to design strategies to improve their performance.
  • Completely overhauled the training presentation provided for patrol officers, to more accurately reflect the type of cases they will typically handle and the dynamics involved. This is critical, because the previous training presentation was directed toward sexual assaults committed by strangers, thereby fueling the societal myth shared by many responding officers that most sexual assaults are committed by strangers when in fact they typically take place between two people who know each other to some degree.
  • Contacted the state agency for regulating police training and standards, to determine what training is required for officers on the topic of sexual assault. The entire cadet training program was then overhauled, so training material more accurately reflects the dynamics of typical (non-stranger) sexual assault incidents and the investigative techniques that are required to support successful prosecution.
  • Improved the department’s internal tracking system, to better record the progress of sexual assault cases through the criminal justice process. These improvements will also clarify the disposition of cases, so agency staff can have a better picture of case attrition – to understand both how many cases "fall out" of the process at which stage, and what the characteristics of those cases are.
  • Worked collaboratively with the Child Abuse unit to standardize the process for recording crimes of sexual violence against children and adults. This is important because many law enforcement agencies – both unintentionally and sometimes intentionally – use police codes inappropriately so that sexual assault crimes "disappear" from the formal reporting system with a non-criminal service code (such as "Request for Assistance").
  • Developed an additional tracking system to differentiate sexual assault reports that are recorded as "Unfounded" versus "False." This improves the practice of recording and tracking sexual assault crimes to ensure that they do not “disappear” within the system or fuel the societal myth that a large percentage of allegations are false.
  • Emphasized in the sexual assault task force meetings the importance of “word pictures” and avoiding the language of consensual sex in all report writing and other discussion of sexual assault cases.

In addition, Tess Sherman (a Violent Crime Analyst for the Austin Police Department) conducted extensive research, by reviewing all of the sexual assault files and compiling a report to describe both the number of sexual assaults and a description of their characteristics from 1995 to 2004. This detailed report includes a discussion of both rape and sexual assault cases, with data summarized regarding the age of suspects, age of victims, and relationship of the two. This detailed report was disseminated to members of the team and other professionals in the community, to describe the number of cases and their characteristics from 1995 to 2004.
Ms. Sherman is currently working on another detailed report summarizing data on the sexual assault cases investigated by Austin Police Department during 2005. That report was due to the Chief’s Office in January of 2006, and she has indicated that it will then be shared with project staff at EVAWI. As Ms. Sherman indicated in an email correspondence, this report will include many of the data elements that were incorporated as a result of the MAD Project:

It'll be slightly different in terms of raw numbers since we'll have the kid victims included and no male victims included as rape victims. I'll also be including some of the EVAWI-driven research which gives us demographic info that we've never collected as carefully before, like drug and alcohol use, percentage of victims who are students, transients, prostitutes, disabled etc.”-- Tess Sherman, Crime Analyst, Austin Police Department

A multidisciplinary task force meeting was then hosted to discuss the statistics and explore their implications for the community of Travis County. As described in the agenda for the meeting, the objectives included discussing the statistics, networking with other professionals, sharing information, and crafting a comprehensive strategy for addressing the problem of sexual assault. This meeting was hosted by the Austin Police Department, with lunch provided. Invited participants included representatives from: the Austin Police Department’s Sex Crimes Unit and Sex Crimes Victim Services, the District Attorney’s Office, the community-based victim advocacy organization, children’s advocacy organization, local colleges and universities, and forensic examiners.
Another critically important collaborative effort was undertaken to develop an educational program for members of the Grand Jury regarding the dynamics of typical sexual cases, court procedures, and other issues. Community Advocacy Director Gail Rice of SafePlace and Sgt. Liz Donegan of the Austin Police Department coordinated with the District Attorney’s office to present this training program to Grand Jury members. This type of educational program is virtually unprecedented and certain to have an important positive impact on decision making in sexual assault cases. As a result of this first training presentation, valuable lessons were learned for expanding the program in the future. To indicate the success of the effort, the following description was provided by Sgt. Liz Donegan:

The Grand Jury went well today, they were very receptive ... They were impressed with the videos of Frank and Anne Marie. No one in this group thought she was the victim of rape after hearing the first segment ... I sincerely feel we are making a difference and that was evident by the reaction of the Grand Jury.” -- Sgt. Liz Donegan, Austin Police Department

Melissa Atwood serves as the Supervisor of the Victim Services Unit for the Austin Police Department, and she has led a number of additional collaborative efforts within the Unit and community. For example:

  • As Chair of the Austin-Travis County Victim Services Task Force, Ms. Atwood included updated information on non-stranger sexual assault in a follow-up report to the community-wide Victim Services Community Plan in November 2005.
  • She also provided training to all counselors in the Victim Services Unit on the issues of non-stranger sexual assault, including the concept of “word pictures” and the language of non-consensual sex that must be used when talking about a sexual assault.
  • Supporting this initiative, a policy was recently implemented whereby all supplements to a sexual assault offense report that are submitted by a Victim Services Counselor are now reviewed by a supervisor for the proper use of language and application of agency protocols. Any concerns or improper word usage are then addressed and corrected by a supervisor before the supplement is finalized.
  • The Victim Services Unit of Austin Police also updated their training programs for Police Cadets, Victim Services Volunteers, and the Citizen’s Police Academy to include updated information on non-stranger sexual assault and the proper use of language. Specifically, the training programs now include information about how a victim’s relationship to the perpetrator may affect their decisions regarding whether or not to report, their behavior in law enforcement interviews, and the impact of trauma resulting from the sexual assault.

Coordinated effort was also seen in the successful joint application of the Austin Police Department (Victim Services Unit), SafePlace, and three other non-profit organizations for funding through the Office of Victims of Crime under the Public Awareness in Underserved Communities grant. The money will be used for a comprehensive public awareness campaign to encourage crime reporting and access of various available victim services in the community. The target population is Spanish-speaking victims of violent crime, which includes adult and child sexual assault cases. Both the Travis County SART and Travis County Victim Services Task Force will provide input to the campaign message and materials.

Finally, outgoing President of the Austin-Travis County Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (A/TC SANE) Mary Levy began work with St. David’s Emergency Department to facilitate collection of blood and urine specimens for toxicology studies in a more timely manner. The program is designed to have charge nurses in the Emergency Department collect urine and blood if a sexual assault victim arrives and is still symptomatic of possible drugs/alcohol in their system. In these situations, the toxicology specimen is collected as soon as possible by Emergency Room staff, thus maintaining chain of custody until the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) is activated to begin the forensic medical examination. At that point, the SANE assumes chain of custody of the specimens. This is critically important because sexual assault victims might otherwise urinate while waiting for the forensic examiner to arrive, thereby reducing the likelihood of later collection of a sample that will be useful for toxicology analysis. Given the speed with which many drugs leave the victim’s system, time is of the essence when collecting these samples.

Mary Levy also worked to increase the number of nurses trained and certified as SANEs. To date, a total of eight Registered Nurses (RN’s) have completed the certification class offered by the Office of the Attorney General (OAG) and two of these have now become active SANEs in the community. A/TC SANE has also trained an additional three nurses and has recruited two experienced SANEs which will bring the number of active SANEs to ten. The program continues to recruit additional Registered Nurses interested in becoming SANEs, and the OAG will hold another SANE training in the Austin area in March 2006 to help the program continue to grow.
For updated information on reform efforts in Austin, Texas, as of July, 2009, click here.


Jacksonville, Florida

The MAD team in Jacksonville also hosted an on-site training conference in August of 2005. The training was designed to reach the entire SART team and many others from different professional disciplines involved in responding to sexual assault. Learning objectives were particularly focused on developing skills to: interview sexual assault survivors; document and write an effective sexual assault report; collect evidence from the victim; investigate drug-facilitated sexual assault; and utilize a multi-disciplinary approach to sexual assault response within the community. The training was excellent and well-attended with representatives from law enforcement professionals, prosecutors, forensic examiners, health care providers, victim advocates, and other direct service providers.

The Jacksonville MAD team continues to develop a community wide protocol and MOU’s between all of the participating members. Their plan is to have a protocol in place by the end of 2006 with all of the key players signed on. At present, they are researching other communities for best practices to discover how they were created and work together as a SART. It is obvious from their research that there are difficulties and pitfalls in most communities attempting to work cooperatively together. But, it is also encouraging to see the great strides and accomplishments that are being made.

Other SART activities in Jacksonville include:

  • Though the Rape Recovery Team (RRT) of the Women’s Center of Jacksonville and the local military bases have long worked collaboratively through the Navy’s Sexual Assault Victim Intervention Program (SAVI), when the Department of Defense introduced new reporting options in June 2005, the efforts became a true partnership. The new “Restricted” reporting option allows an active duty service member to report a sexual assault to a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, a Healthcare Provider, a Victim Advocate or a Chaplain without starting an investigation.

Enhanced protocol discussion has also resulted in the formal implementation of Memoranda of Understanding (MOU) between the Rape Recovery Team and the tri-bases Naval Air Station Jacksonville, Mayport Naval Station, and King’s Bay Submarine Base. The MOU’s establish the RRT’s intrinsic involvement with the SAVI Program as the primary Victim Advocates for military sexual assault victims. Active duty service members and their dependants will be directed to the RRT for advocacy services and in turn, the RRT will link victims back to command-based Victim Advocates when necessary. Mutual efforts at cross-training and continued protocol revision are being established.

  • The Sexual Assault Interagency Council (SAIC) is working on developing a wallet-sized response card that will be given out to medical providers (hospitals, various other health clinics and doctor's offices) with a short explanation of what to do when a rape victim presents to their facility. It is kind of a “do and don't” card, which is set up to help medical providers make appropriate decisions when a rape victim presents to their facility.
  • The SAIC is also preparing recommendations to present to the Sexual Assault Advisory Council (SAAC) that will address some of the problems and concerns in their community response to sexual assault. Thinking “outside the box” is being encouraged and while all of the suggestions and recommendations may not be possible, there is a sincere attempt on the part of all participating to create the best solution possible.
  • A two-year collaborative effort on the part of the Rape Recovery Team (community advocates), the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office, the State Attorney’s Office, the City of Jacksonville Victim Services, the Office of Elder Affairs, and many more agencies, has produced a state of the art training program for the police, prosecutor, and court system personnel. An interactive CD-ROM has been produced that allows law enforcement professionals to use the CD in their vehicles for short training pieces and as a resource to help identify sexual and physical violence of elders. Training will be conducted for criminal justice personnel over the next two years as well as elder care providers and the community.
  • A Rape Risk Reduction Education grant has been received by the Rape Recovery Team. The grant will provide the funds needed to provide Rape Risk Reduction Education to over 4,000 middle and high school students.
  • Team members have also worked on two separate research projects. One of these studies involved reviewing 70 cases of adult sexual assault as they moved through the criminal justice system. Among the variables examined were the original charge, the circumstances of the case, and the final disposition. The analysis was designed to help the team to better understand how cases move through the criminal justice system and what decisions are made regarding case processing and outcomes.
  • The second research project involves clients from the Rape Recovery Team, with analysis focused on the time period of 1998 to 2006. The Women’s Center is working collaboratively with a local researcher to conduct an extensive research project, comprehensively analyzing data on these sexual assault cases and their characteristics and outcomes.
  • In addition to these many other efforts, plans are currently underway to participate in statewide Sexual Assault Awareness Month activities in April of 2006. In particular, all of the sexual violence programs in the state have agreed to create awareness events for one designated day. On that day, the Jacksonville team will hold a press event on the steps of the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office. The event will include a pinning ceremony with teal sexual assault pins given for all the higher ranking officers and some select patrol officers. This event will be followed by an evening reception, art exhibit, and speakout for survivors.
  • The team is also working with all of the hospitals in the Jacksonville area to achieve a coordinated community response to sexual assault victims. At present, some hospitals are unaware of: whether they have mandatory reporting requirements (Florida is not a mandated reporting state for sexual assault); where to send sexual assault victims to obtain a medical forensic examination; and how to reach a victim advocate to access services.

Finally, several new members have joined the Jacksonville SART team in the last few month. Dr. Shannon Perry is the new Chief of Victim Services for the City of Jacksonville; Shannon Moore, MSW is the new Rape Recovery Team Director; Chief Steve Weintraub is the Chief of Detectives; and Lt. Annie Smith supervised the Jacksonville Sheriff’s Office Sex Crimes Unit.

For updated information on reform efforts in Jacksonville, Florida, as of July, 2009, click here.


Grand Rapids, Michigan

In November of 2006, the Grand Rapids MAD team hosted an on-site training conference, which required a great deal of effort. Conference participants were provided with an opportunity to learn invaluable information presented by national experts – without paying any registration fee, because of the William H. Donner Foundation grant funding. Opportunities for networking with others from the same community and/or same discipline were seen as being extremely valuable.

Members of the MAD team in Grand Rapids have stated that they feel their working relationships have benefited greatly as a result of the project, with increased communication and cooperation between the various disciplines. The team has particularly focused their efforts on reviewing more carefully the investigation and prosecution of cases involving non-strangers. Team members also believe that they are better able to challenge each other about case outcomes, such as why a report doesn’t move forward to prosecution, or why it was determined to be unfounded, etc. This is credited to the fact that they now have a shared language and framework for conceptualizing the difficult issues that often become struggles when dealing with cases of non-stranger sexual assault.

In addition, Sgt. Tim Williams of the Grand Rapids Police Department established a multidisciplinary committee to review the closing of sexual assault cases. The committee includes the prosecutor and nurse examiner who work on these cases. The committee meets twice a year, to review sexual assault cases from a 6-month period of time. The information gained from that review process is invaluable in identifying training needs and objectives.

Jack Stewart of Kent County Sheriff’s Office has also worked with Amy Piddington of the Kent County Health Department to pull, redact, and review all of the sexual assault cases from 2004 that were Unfounded or Exceptionally Cleared. This work was done in anticipation of the research project to be conducted by EVAWI to analyze such case files from a number of participating law enforcement agencies. That research will allow staff and team members of the Making a Difference project a first-ever chance to analyze in detail the characteristics of sexual assault cases that are closed in these ways. By redacting and submitting these files now, project staff of EVAWI will be able to conduct pilot research, produce preliminary results, and greatly strengthen proposals submitted to fund this research. This should increase the chances of the project being funded by public or private sources.

Continuing efforts need to include working to collaborate with smaller departments in the area (beyond the city of Grand Rapids and the Kent County Sheriff's Department) to bring them up to speed on the efforts that are being made to deal with non-stranger sexual assault in a different way.
For updated information on reform efforts in Grand Rapids, Michigan, as of July, 2009, click here.
Bozeman, Montana

In Bozeman, the multidisciplinary team meets monthly to coordinate and work on their many shared projects. Together, they have:

  • Worked to educate the public and policymakers about legislation currently under consideration to pay for sexual assault evidence collection kits (often referred to as “rape kits”) in cases where the victim does not talk to law enforcement. As of March, 2005, this bill is out of the Appropriations committee and is expected to pass the entire legislature soon. It would represent a significant advance for both victims and law enforcement, by encouraging the collection and preservation of evidence in sexual assault cases where victims are not able to participate in an investigation in the immediate aftermath of a sexual assault. By maintaining the evidence collected from a forensic medical examination, the investigation can then proceed if the victim is able to participate at a later time.
  • Changed the way that law enforcement and hospital personnel interact, so that a detective responds to the hospital when they receive a victim of sexual assault. In the past, a patrol officer would have responded to the hospital, and the case would have been handed off later to a detective, unnecessarily increasing the number of law enforcement professionals the victim would see. By having a detective respond immediately, this streamlines the process, reduces the number of law enforcement interviews for the victim, and increases the likelihood that the officer responding to the hospital has specialized training in sexual assault investigation.
  • Submitted a proposal to the state criminal justice funding agency, to bring in Kathy Bell to provide training to the Emergency Room nurses on forensic evidence collection in sexual assault cases. Kathy Bell is a leading national expert in conducting forensic medical examinations and working with a coordinated, multidisciplinary team environment. The team expects this funding to be approved, so this training can take place in the coming year.
  • Worked with hospital personnel as they plan a redesigned facility, which will include a room specifically designed and dedicated for conducting forensic medical examinations. The facility will be used for both adult and child victims of sexual assault, and this is particularly exciting because the team cited improvements in forensic medical examinations as one of their highest priorities to create positive change in their community.
  • Hired the Western Regional Children’s Advocacy Center to bring in a training program for their team, to coordinate their multidisciplinary community response to child victims of sexual assault.
  • Provided training for a considerable percentage of the law enforcement personnel in the community, including most of the county deputies and city police officers, as well as many of the campus officers and officers from outlying jurisdictions. The training program lasted 2 hours, and addressed the topics of interviewing victims and suspects, and collecting evidence in sexual assault cases. The training was paid for with a grant from the Department of Justice, coordinated by the campus-based victim services program, and provided by a multidisciplinary team of professionals from the Bozeman Police Department Detectives Unit, Gallatin County Evidence Collection, County Attorney's Office, Victim Assistance Program, and campus-based victim services.
  • Provided additional training for medical assistants in the hospital, so they would have an overview of the options and resources available for victims of sexual assault. This training was provided by a multidisciplinary team of prosecutors, law enforcement professionals, victim advocates, and an Emergency Room nurse.
  • Developed standardized protocols for inter-agency cooperation. Each discipline developed their own standardized protocol, which was then reviewed by the multidisciplinary team and revised based on their feedback. These standardized protocols will go a long way toward ensuring that the various disciplines interact in ways that respect the roles and boundaries of each profession.
  • Started discussing individual cases during the monthly, multidisciplinary committee meeting. This review process will provide a first-ever opportunity to coordinate the services provided to individual victims in the Bozeman community by members of the various disciplines.

Washington, DC

The MAD team in Washington D.C. has been working to streamline efforts for victims to obtain a forensic examination, eliminating delays and creating a smoother process. This has resulted from the working relationships that have been nurtured through the Making Difference project. Another positive development is the addition of Mr. Rory Doyle to the SART team. Mr. Doyle is the Deputy Chief Toxicologist of the DC Medical Examiner’s Office, and his presence at the SART meetings and as a part of the MAD team has been very beneficial. Mr. Doyle has already conducted a training on drug facilitated sexual assaults for members of the multidisciplinary team, and he is making sure that team members abide by all applicable local laws for evidence retention. He is diligent about following up on all suspected drug facilitated sexual assault cases.

A particularly exciting development in D.C. is the hiring of Kathleen Gann as SANE Director for the D.C. Rape Crisis Center. Demonstrating the power of the collaborative relationships in D.C., Gann’s hiring was a joint effort of the multidisciplinary team. Although she was actually hired as SANE Director by the D.C. Rape Crisis Center, team members had input into the process, even participating in the interviews with potential candidates. The decision to hire Ms. Gann was then the result of multidisciplinary consensus, the benefits of which are already seen in her efforts to work together with other team members to facilitate a smoother collaborative process. For example, representatives from the U.S. Attorney’s Office noted how helpful it is to have an expert on the team that they can contact with questions and to solicit input. Ms. Gann is currently working to develop a training outline for SANE nurses in the D.C. Metropolitan area.

Since her arrival, Ms. Gann has conducted a SANE training for new SANE recruits last fall. The training event was a tremendous success, and it involved all of the various professionals involved in the SART team. Those trainees are now in the process of shadowing the various SART agencies to complete their "clinical" hours to become practicing SANE nurses for the D.C. region.

Team members from the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department have also conducted an important training initiative, in which first responders receive 4 hours of training on sexual assault investigation. The training is conducted collaboratively with members of the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department and Caroline Guhde, the SANE Program Advocate with the D.C. Rape Crisis Center. Because of the large number of Metro PD officers, a 4-hour training program will take place twice a week for a period of 40 weeks. The training is the first of its kind to provide an integrated perspective on law enforcement response and victim advocacy. The development of the training was multidisciplinary, and the program itself is interactive so participants can see the collaborative relationships established between the two agencies. The initiative for this training came from Denise Snyder, the Executive Director of the D.C. Rape Crisis Center, because Metro PD officers must participate in 40 hours of in-service training a year – yet training has not previously focused on the issues of sexual assault investigation. Team members are currently working together to establish a similar training program for the Metro PD training academy. To assist with this objective, Metro PD is currently working on an 8-minute training video for first responders.
Further contributing to the multidisciplinary nature of the training provided for the D.C. Metropolitan Police Department, the U.S. Attorney’s Office has now become involved in the mandatory 40-hour annual training of all detectives/investigators. In addition, a 1-hour training program will be provided by the U.S. Attorneys Office for all detectives/investigators on the topic of what prosecutors want them to know about sexual abuse, domestic violence, and crimes against children (the three types of crimes handled by the Sex Offense and Domestic Violence Section of the U.S. Attorney’s Office). This is particularly noteworthy because the training is not aimed exclusively at the Sexual Assault Unit within the Metropolitan Police Department. Rather, the training is designed to reach the hundreds of other detectives/investigators who must also attend this mandatory training program. The U.S. Attorney’s Office has also begun conducting a one-hour training for first responders, designed to reach all new recruits at the training academy for the Metropolitan Police Department, on the same topic of sexual abuse, domestic violence, and crimes against children. This one-hour program is typically provided about once a month to a new group of academy recruits.

In addition to training that is described above for the DC Metropolitan Police Department, Caroline Guhde (SANE Program Advocate for the DC Rape Crisis Center), has also reached out to other law enforcement agencies in the area, such as Metropolitan Transit, Capitol Police, and U.S. Park Police. The training Ms. Guhde has provided to all of these law enforcement agencies has focused on how to respond to sexual assault survivors with disabilities, including how to communicate with someone with a cognitive/developmental disability and utilizing "People First" language when it comes to disabilities.
For updated information on reform efforts in Washington, DC, as of July, 2009, click here.

Columbia, South Carolina

The MAD team in Columbia, South Carolina worked hard to host an on-site Making A Difference training conference in August of 2005. This conference took place in the context of their larger effort to encourage media coverage of the issues involved with sexual assault. For example, the local newspaper recently printed a 2-page article on sexual assault issues and the TV news covered a story regarding drug-facilitated sexual assault and the public education efforts of the multidisciplinary team. As a result of this media coverage, the Chief of the Columbia Police Department was encouraged to respond publicly regarding the seriousness of the problem and the agency’s response. The benefits of such media coverage therefore included not only public education but also encouragement of positive reform efforts in community agencies.

The team has also led other educational initiatives with law enforcement. For example, advocates from the University of South Carolina have conducted several 2-hour training programs for line officers about what to do when responding to a sexual assault, using rape language versus consensual sex verbiage in reports, and building rapport with victims. This training also included information on drug-facilitated crime and emphasized the fact that most sexual assaults involve non-strangers. Currently, the Richland County’s SART is working with the South Carolina Criminal Justice Academy to produce a 15 -20 minute video with similar training goals. Production of the video started the week of January 23, 2006. It will be concluded by February 10, 2006. In addition, wallet cards have been developed for patrol officers, to provide guidelines for responding to a sexual assault case. These wallet cards will be distributed along with an accompanying education packet for patrol officers. The Richland County Sheriff’s Department also recently established their own forensic lab. The existence of this new local forensic lab has significantly decreased the wait time for results from the State Law Enforcement Division (SLED). As a result of this effort, a serial rapist was arrested based upon evidence collected by the new forensic lab at Richland County Sheriff’s Department.

In addition, advocates from the University of South Carolina’s Office for Sexual Health & Violence Prevention have partnered with the Department of Psychology to submit a grant to the Center of Disease Control – Injury and Prevention, in order to implement a program for men to talk to other men about sexual violence. The goal of the project is to hire a male Program Director to create and implement a Men Making A Difference (MMAD) program on campus. This Program Director will serve as an on-call advocate at the campus office for Sexual Health and Violence Prevention as well as create a MMAD peer educator group. The Director will also provide prevention training and education as well. The Department of Athletics, Air Force ROTC, Campus Ministries Organizations have provided letters of support for this effort and the Department of Psychology is responsible for evaluating the project.

The team is also very proud of the accomplishments of the SANE program located in Palmetto Health Richland. The program is wrapping up their first year VOCA grant which enabled the program to hire a SART director. They have also submitted a grant proposal for funding to add forensic exam services for children under the age of 13 years. The initiative continues to contain supplemental pay for SANE nurses and pay incentives for pursuing relevant education and staying in the program. These efforts are designed to tackle the problem of turnover among SANE nurses, by paying them at a rate that is more in line with the real commitment involved and by rewarding their efforts to increase their skill level and stay in the position. Plans are also currently underway to expand services to Palmetto Health Baptist hospital, thus providing two hospitals in Richland County with SANE programs. In addition, a data base system has been created to track and maintain the SANE records and Dr. Harvey, the Medical Director for the Palmetto Health Richland emergency room, is working on a research initiative involving the use of Propranolol (Beta Blocker) to lessen PTSD symptoms.

Terry Casto, the SANE Director at Palmetto Health Richland, has conducted several 4-day trainings for SANE nurses. Terry Casto recently completed a SANE training that was held the week of January 16-20, 2006, involving the participation of 18 nurses. Members of the Columbia MAD team served as trainers, including Lieutenant Lancy Weeks from the Richland County Sheriff’s Department, Tricia Phaup of the University of South Carolina, and Erin Gaddy from the Richland County Solicitor’s Office. In the future, the SANE program will add a second week of training for those nurses who participated in the January training to complete their additional requirements, such as clinical rotations, courtroom observation, police ride-along, etc. This will allow the nurses who participated in the SANE training to complete these requirements in a timely manner so they can begin to provide forensic exams. The second week will also help with retention by helping the nurses complete their training and become involved in the program.

Finally, Brett Carney of the University of South Carolina is currently working with the undergraduate Sexual Health Awareness and Rape Education (SHARE) peers to plan for the upcoming Sexual Assault Awareness Month (SAAM). SAAM will include events such as the annual Clothesline Project, A Walk in My Shoes, and Denim Day. The Clothesline Project involves asking victims of sexual assault and relationship violence to paint or write on t-shirts to express their feelings about their victimization. The t-shirts will be displayed by hanging them one after another on a clothesline to dramatically and visually convey the number of victims affected by such violence. Denim Day educates the community about the fact that women can be raped when wearing tight jeans. This event was started internationally due to a judge in Italy ruling that the victim could not have been raped because her jeans were too tight for the offender to remove. A Walk In My Shoes is a visual display in which shoes are collected and placed in a central location on-campus to portray the number of assaults that occurred either on-campus or in Richland County. The state coalition in South Carolina also conducts A Walk In My Shoes display on the state capital steps to represent the number of survivors in the state for the previous year.

For updated information on reform efforts in Columbia, South Carolina, as of July, 2009, click here.
Kansas City, Missouri

The MAD team in Kansas City continues to meet every month and continues to work both on developing standardized protocols within each of the disciplines and on implementing a SART protocol with expectations for training, attendance, communication, etc. This multidisciplinary committee, known as KCIRSA is also working diligently to prepare for their regional training conference to take place April 24-26. The training conference is titled: Making a Difference: A Multi-disciplinary, Collaborative Approach to Investigating & Prosecuting Non-Stranger Sexual Assault. Each of the professional disciplines involved in KCIRSA is working to prepare for the conference and invite colleagues within the metropolitan area as well as regionally.

In addition, MOCSA (Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault) has been working to plan and host their annual community luncheon which typically draws over 1,000 individuals from across the community. This year’s speaker is “the Central Park Jogger” (see the brochure included in the Appendix for a description of this upcoming event).

At COVERSA (Collection of Evidence Regarding Sexual Assault), the capacity of the organization to serve the needs of victims has been greatly enhanced with the addition of a salaried position for Tammy Richardson, R.N., B.S.N., SANE-A, as Program Director. In addition, Dr. Rebecca Hierholzer of COVERSA, has worked with technical staff to design an Access database to correspond exactly to the research materials developed for the Making a Difference project, so it eliminates the use of the Tracking Forms and/or the Excel Spreadsheet. This type of Access database can make the process of recording and entering data much less burdensome. Yet an even more important advantage is the reduced likelihood of data entry errors with the user-friendly format with drop-down menus and check-boxes rather than hand entering numbers. By reducing the chance that data entry errors will occur, this could potentially have a profound impact on improving the legitimacy and subsequent impact of the findings that are uncovered.
For updated information on reform efforts in Kansas City, Missouri, as of July, 2009, click here.

San Diego, California

Policy/Procedure Standardization:

  • Initiated a process for multi-disciplinary Case Review of rejected and closed cases with the purpose of improving services for victims of sexual assault.
  • Developed a Confidentiality Form for use at the multi-disciplinary Case Review sessions.
  • Approached CALCASA requesting them to initiate legislation efforts to afford statutory protection for reviewing sexual assault cases.
  • Provided a report to the San Diego County Sheriff with an eye toward establishing a specialized Sexual Assault Unit within the Sheriff’s Department.
  • Currently investigating a method to link sexual assault cases from beginning to end. The database would incorporate information from all applicable agencies.
  • Developed an electronic version of the Office of Emergency Services (OES) 923 form.
  • Developed a standardized Medical Record form to be completed for sexual assault victims seen by SAFE’s at non-SART facilities. The form documents evidentiary examination findings and recommendations for prophylaxis treatment.
  • Developed a “Hand Addendum” to the Office of Emergency Services (OES) 923 Form to improve documentation of injuries to a victim’s hands.
  • Developed a “Foot Addendum” to the Office of Emergency Services (OES) 923 Form to improve documentation of injuries to a victim’s feet.
  • Revised the “Treatment Guidelines for Victims of Sexual Assault” for medical personnel at non-SART Facilities.
  • Revised the “Guidelines for the use of Data Submitted to EMS from San Diego SART Programs.”
  • Revised the “Strangulation Addendum” to the Office of Emergency Services (OES) 923 Form to document strangulation-related injuries.
  • Maintained the San Diego SART Manual, which catalogues SART policies, procedures, forms, and activities.


  • Collated and analyzed the Victim Confidential Questionnaire findings. Results will be distributed to each discipline (forensic examiners, law enforcement, advocacy) and for each specific agency.
  • Continued to attend the Domestic Violence Council as a liaison member.
  • Guest lectured at a San Diego State University Epidemiology Masters class, providing an overview of the San Diego County SART Program and the dynamics of sexual assault with an emphasis on young adult victims.
  • Continued to provide presentations to Emergency Department personnel regarding expeditious and clinically sound treatment and/or transfer of sexual assault victims.
  • Sponsored the First Inaugural Charity Golf Tournament to raise and provide monies for expenses incurred by victims of sexual assault and to offset costs of county sexual assault programs.
  • Revised and reprinted the SART Resource Pamphlet, a booklet providing an explanation of the SART program and SART resource agencies. The pamphlet has been reprinted by various agencies throughout the existence of the SART Program and is available in English and Spanish.
  • Affiliated with two National University Forensic Science Master’s candidates and one San Diego State University Public Health candidate to conduct research using San Diego countywide evidentiary examination data for their thesis projects (theses published 2004, 2004, 2005).


  • Sponsored a five-day training course for medical personnel, investigators, and advocates interested in developing professional roles as interdisciplinary team members of SART, organized by Palomar-Pomerado Health Care and the University Community Medical Center (April 2005).
  • Conducted a two-day Forensic Digital Photography class to improve the skills of medical-legal examiners in documenting the absence/presence of injuries.
  • The San Diego Sheriff’s Department sponsored sexual assault training sessions, which were open to all law enforcement agencies in the county.
  • University Community Medical Center and the District Attorney’s Office conducted a training on “Expert Witness Testimony.”
  • University Community Medical Center conducted a training to conduct forensic examinations at the Medical Examiner’s Office in instances where a homicide is also suspected of involving a sexual assault.


  • Supported and promoted “Take Back the Night,” 2005 campaign. Advocacy agencies coordinated the campaign locally and participants included University of San Diego (USD), University of California San Diego (UCSD), San Diego State University (SDSU), Cal State San Marcos, Palomar College, and Cuyamaca College.
  • Advocacy Agencies and Indian Healthcare sponsored and participated in numerous Sexual Assault Awareness Campaigns, Health Fairs, and Workshops.

For updated information on reform efforts in San Diego, California, as of July, 2009, click here.

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