meets its goals
Lapeer County's Sexual Assault Response
Team marks first year with much success
April 09, 2008
LAPEER COUNTY — In light of Crime Victims Rights Week April 13-19, local law enforcement, public health officials and others are taking the opportunity to mark the first successful year of the county's sexual assault response team.
Officially known as SANE/SART (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner/Sexual Assault Response Team), the team of specially trained nurses and advocates have handled about five cases of alleged abuse so far.
"We've had one defendant plead guilty with the forensic evidence gathered," Cathy Strong, victim advocate for Lapeer County, said.
That's just the outcome the team was hoping for.
Victims of sexual abuse are now examined within hours of the assault either at a local hospital or the health department by a nurse who collects any potential evidence using state-of-the-art equipment. An advocate is on hand to answer the victim's questions, offer support and assist with follow up care including counseling.
Previously, victims had to travel out of county, sometimes days after the assault took place, jeopardizing their health and the viability of evidence needed for prosecution.
Prosecutor Byron Konschuh said that with the plethora of crime scene investigation shows, jury members expect to presented with forensic evidence.
SANE/SART President Peg Bush said the team is in need of more nurse examiners. Those interested will need to undergo 40-60 hours of training for which they will be reimbursed.
Volunteer advocates are also needed. Men and women of all ages are encouraged to consider giving of their time.
"We need people who are good listeners, empathetic and can help without hindering," Bush said.
Both the nurse and advocates operate on an on-call basis.
Success can also be attributed to the financial support the SANE/SART group has received from the community, in particular the Four County Community Foundation's $20,000 grant and a $10,000 three-year start up grant from the Lapeer Community Foundation.
Help has also come from the Zonta Club, Kiwanis Club, Lapeer Regional Medical Center and the Department of Human Services.
In addition to Konschuh, Strong and Bush, other members on the SANE/SART board include: Joyce Baron and Dr. Russell Bush of the Lapeer County Health Department; Cevin Brown of the Michigan State Police; Galland Burnham of the Lapeer County EMS; Kim Hebbard, Celeste Sinsabagh and Tracy Walker of LACADA; Adrienne DeFord of Legal Services, Dave Frisch of the Lapeer City Police Department, Chief Assistant Prosecutor Mike Hodges; Anita Jolly of North Lapeer Counseling; Scott Mango and Terri Parmer of the Lapeer Regional Medical Center; Vic Martin of Lapeer County Central Dispatch; Lt. Jim McLain of the Lapeer County Sheriff's Department; Roy Ramirez of Lapeer County Mental Health; Mike Sumbur of the Department of Human Services; Kate Pohjola of Zonta and community member Sherry Theobald.
Anyone interested in volunteering with SANE/SART can contact the prosecutor's office at 667-0326.
As for a public recognition of Victims' Rights Week, Strong said the prosecutors office is in the midst of planning a ceremony in May when they'll place a marker under the tree planted in honor of victims on the courthouse lawn.