Monterey Streamlines Sexual Assault Reporting Procedure
June 6, 2011
The Sexual Assault Response Team of Monterey County is overhauling the forensic exam aspect of the sexual assault reporting process in an effort to better serve victims of this historically underreported crime.
It is mandatory for medical professionals to report sexual assault to law enforcement, however, victims 13 years and older are not required to talk to law enforcement when contacted. Cases involving younger victims are subject to immediate police involvement.
Hoping that more victims will come forward to receive medical care and to have valuable evidence collected, Monterey County will now offer exams to victims without their having to speak with law enforcement first—historically the agencies requested the forensic exams as part of an investigation. This gives the victim the opportunity to receive much needed attention, without the caveat of having to report the attack to law enforcement.
SART Coordinator Sheree Goldman explains the importance of the exams lies not only in getting victims medical care, but also in collecting vital evidence used in investigating and trying a sexual assault case. “After the exam, they can go home, get a good night’s sleep, and get help from their loved ones. Then hopefully they’ll want to talk with law enforcement themselves.”
According to the Department of Justice no more than 1 in 5 victims of sexual assault report their assailants to police, making sexual assault the most underreported crime in the country.