A specialized team is providing direct intervention services to sexual assault victims and outlining a new protocol for others when dealing with similar cases.
Law enforcement agencies, hospitals, and community centers will now have defined roles in the sexual assault reporting process as laid out under this new protocol.
“I am putting in place a special victims unit in the Genesee County Prosecutor’s Office,” Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said.
Leyton announced his support on Wednesday, July 10 for Genesee County’s Sexual Assault Response Team – or SART – through a new special victims unit.
It will feature a unit of three prosecutors taking on cases individually - from handling the warrant to meeting with the victim and serving throughout the preliminary examination and trial.
“It’s a declaration by our community that we’re going to step up and stand up for victims of sexual violence,” Leyton said.
The Sexual Assault Response Team is also putting a protocol in place, which was signed by those in law enforcement, hospitals, and other service agencies. The protocol promises greater support for sexual assault victims in Genesee County.
“[Sexual assault] rates have gone up here in Genesee County. So for us, having the SART in place not only provides that streamline process for our victims, but it will increase the prosecution rates on the other side of things,” said Tonya Tenbusch, SART coordinator.
As part of the protocol, the YWCA is where they will manage a sexual assault nursing examiner program that will offer rape kit examinations and a private setting for those who come in.
“The sexual assault exams can be done here at the YWCA for ages 12 and up. But then the same specialized nurses from here can go to any of the three hospitals here in Genesee County and also provide services to victims there,” Tenbusch said.
According to Leyton, this new special victims unit will not only feature additional assistant prosecutors, but also clerical support and a victim advocate.