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BOARDMAN Caring for the victims of rape



Published: Fri, November 16, 2001 @ 12:00 a.m.



Officers from around the area were invited to the seminar.

By JOHN W. GOODWIN JR.

VINDICATOR STAFF WRITER

BOARDMAN -- Police learned Thursday about handling the emotional side of rape, and understanding the role of a new St. Elizabeth Health Center program with victims of sexual assault and other sex related crimes.

Officers from within a 60-mile radius of the township, along with St. Elizabeth personnel, gathered at the Boardman government building Thursday to learn about the hospital's Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program. The seminar offered a variety of topics including caring for rape victims, techniques for first responders to infant and juvenile sex crimes, case presentment, defense strategies and victims of crime information.

Boardman police Lt. Robert Rupp said the SANE program is one of the best things to have come along for sexual assault investigations during his 27 years dealing with such crimes. He said care given in the program is exemplary and the equipment used to collect DNA samples and other evidence gives law enforcement a leg up in catching those who commit the crimes.

"We wanted to sponsor this seminar because it is very important that the public be made aware that this type of service is available for victims," said Rupp.

Topics: Speakers, said Rupp, focused on the appropriate means for police officers and other first responders to sexual assault crime victims to deal with the victims. He said it is important that officers understand that those individuals need to be assured they are cared for by those involved in the situation at all levels.

Barbara Cornell, SANE coordinator, said it is also important that officers understand how the program is beneficial to law enforcement and the role it will play in working with police, the prosecutor's office and representatives of the rape advocacy center.

Cornell said victims are interviewed by police at the hospital where SANE program employees will provide a forensic evidence examination. From those results and police investigation, prosecutors determine if charges should be filed. The rape advocacy worker is support for the victim throughout the process.

Advice: Cornell emphasizes it is important for anyone who may be a victim of sexual assault to come to the hospital as soon as possible. She said victims should not change clothes, use the bathroom, or eat or drink anything before completing the examination.

"Generally after 72 hours it is difficult to find any physical evidence on a victim, so the sooner a person reports a rape and gets the medical evaluation and evidence collection, the better," said Cornell. "Optimally the first 12 to 24 hours is the best time frame.

jgoodwin@vindy.com




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