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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
April 18, 2005

Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General
Division of Criminal Justice
- Vaughn L. McKoy, Director

 

Rachel Sacharow
609-984-1936

 

Attorney General’s Office - Division of Criminal Justice to Train 100+ County Sexual Assault Response Team Advisory Board Members on Newly Revised Guidelines

TRENTON - Attorney General Peter C. Harvey announced today that more than 100 county Sexual Assault Response Team Advisory Board members from throughout New Jersey have completed a mandatory training session regarding the newly revised “Standards for Providing Services to Victims of Sexual Assault.”

The New Jersey Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) Program is a “first in the nation” rape and sexual assault response and is comprised of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE), rape care advocates, and law enforcement officers who provide compassionate, coordinated services to victims of sexual assault. The new standards were created based on recommendations made by the Attorney General’s SART/SANE Coordinating Council, which include the Division of Criminal Justice, the County Prosecutors Association, the New Jersey Sex Crimes Officers Association, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners, New Jersey Board of Nursing, New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault, and the New Jersey Division of Women.

“Today, New Jersey takes a huge step forward by training SART team members and hospitals on how best to assist victims of sexual assault,” Attorney General Harvey said. “The new set of standards is victim-oriented which employs a ‘best practice’ and new level of sensitivity to victims of sexual assault.”

Joining the Attorney General to announce the statewide SART/SANE Program were Vaughn L. McKoy, Director, Division of Criminal Justice; Stephen R. Briggs, Provost, The College of New Jersey (TCNJ); Deborah Shepherd, Executive Director, New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NJCASA); Lt. Honey Spirito, New Jersey Sex Crimes Officers’ Association; and Eileen Caraker, Gloucester County SART/SANE Coordinator.

The Attorney General also acknowledged the ongoing partnership that the SART/SANE program has with The College of New Jersey (TCNJ). TCNJ has provided significant resources to the statewide SANE program.

“The sexual assault task force and the Office of Anti-Violence Initiatives were created to pro-actively address the issue of sexual assault among college students,” Provost Briggs said. “Together these groups raise awareness on campus and create an environment conducive to reporting these crimes.”

According to Director McKoy, the SANE/SART concept of aiding victims of sexual assault includes a “team” approach, ensuring that every victim of sexual assault has access to the best possible care and services available from health care, law enforcement and rape care advocacy agencies throughout the state. Since its inception in 1996, the state-wide SART/SANE program has received more than $3 million in funding from the Division of Criminal Justice through the Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy.

"The goal of the SART is twofold - to provide medical care and counseling to the victim while allowing law enforcement to obtain necessary evidence to investigate, arrest and prosecute the offender,” said Director McKoy. “The new standards help to cement the idea that the SART/SANE Program is a victim-centered service. The program is a safe way for women to come forward, without feeling that they will be victimized a second or third time by the very system that is endeavoring to help."

Today, there are 175 SANE’s (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners) and 55 New Jersey hospitals working as part of the statewide program. From Oct 1, 2002 to Sept. 30, 2003, SART/SANE reported 980 activations of the SART team. The following year, there were 1,150 activations. SART/SANE officials site these statistics as a good indication that residents of New Jersey are becoming aware of the SART/SANE program. In 2004, the 21 county rape care programs served, 3,539 new victims, 1,215 new significant others/family members and 13,640 hotline calls.

Other press conference attendees included Vicki Lunde Rodriguez, Division on Women Rape Care Program; Robert Laurino, County Prosecutors’ Association; Susan Bakewell-Sachs, Dean of TCNJ’s School of Nursing; Jackie Deitch-Stackhouse, Office of Anti-Violence Initiatives, TCNJ; James Lopez, student member, Sexual Assault Task Force; Assistant Attorney General Jessica Oppenheim; Deputy Attorney General Linda Rinaldi; Connie Schwedes, Program Development Specialist, and representatives from the Division of Criminal Justice.

For more information on becoming a SANE, please call 609-984-7346. For information on becoming a Rape Care Advocate, please call 609-631-4450 or visit the Division of Criminal Justice Web site at www.njdcj.org.

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