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For Immediate Release:  
For Further Information Contact:
April 22, 2005

Office of The Attorney General
- Peter C. Harvey, Attorney General

 

Lee Moore
609-292-4791

 

Attorney General Harvey Honored by New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault;
NJCASA Cites Efforts to Raise Public Awareness, Assist Victims of Sexual Violence

TRENTON -- Attorney General Peter C. Harvey was honored this week by the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault (NJCASA) for his efforts in combating sexual violence and violence against women, and for his commitment to encouraging public discourse on those and related issues.

During a NJCASA-sponsored ceremony held Thursday evening in Princeton, the coalition awarded Harvey its “Let’s Talk About It” award for his “unwavering dedication to speaking out against violence against women, and for increasing awareness about the importance of eliminating sexual violence in our communities.”

Based in Trenton, NJCASA is a statewide advocacy organization dedicated to combating sexual violence, promoting the compassionate and just treatment of sexual assault victims and their loved ones, and to raising public awareness about issues relating to sexual violence and the victimization of women.

“I am honored to have been recognized by the New Jersey Coalition Against Sexual Assault, an organization that is doing vital advocacy work on behalf of many people in need of help throughout our state,” said Harvey. “April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, so by calendar standards, this is an appropriate time to be talking about sexual violence and violence against women. However, the reality is that any time is the right time to be talking about these critical issues. Sexual violence and violence against women occurs around the clock and, at the Attorney General’s Office, our commitment is to not only encouraging frank public discussion about the problem, but to doing something about it.”

Earlier this week, Attorney General Harvey announced that more than 100 county Sexual Assault 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 standards for providing victim services were created based on recommendations made by the Coordinating Council of the Attorney General’s SART/SANE (Sexual Assault Response Team/Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners) program. The coordinating council includes representation from 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, NJ CASA, and the New Jersey Division of Women.

The SART/SANE program is a unique rape and sexual assault response initiative involving the work of sexual assault nurse examiners, rape care advocates, and law enforcement officers who provide compassionate, coordinated services to victims of sexual assault.

“The new set of standards is more victim-oriented, and contains expanded protocols for such areas as rape care advocacy, sexual assault forensic evidence kits and specialized services for child and adolescent victims,” said Attorney General Harvey. “With these new standards and expanded protocols, New Jersey has taken a significant step forward by training SART/SANE personnel and hospitals on how best to assist the victims of sexual assault.”

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.

According to Attorney General Harvey, statistics indicate that an increasing number of people are drawing on the services provided through SART/SANE.

In 2004, he said, the 21 county-based SART/SANE rape care programs served 3,539 new victims, 1,215 new “significant others/family members,” and fielded 13,640 hotline calls.

“The statistics tell two stories,” said the Attorney General. “One is that more victims are reaching out, and that is a good thing. The other story is that the violence continues, and that is unacceptable. The time has come for us to give our individual and collective attention to stopping sexual violence and violence against women now.”

In addition to Attorney General Harvey, two other persons were honored Thursday by NJCASA for their efforts on behalf of sexual violence victims. The honorees were Carole Vasile, Supervisor of the Office on the Prevention of Violence Against Women within the State Department of Community Affairs’ Division on Women, and Lisa Diamond Rosenthal and Patricia E. Berry, both of Montclair, who work on behalf of Teresa’s Truth and Courage Fund, a fund to aid the victims of sexual violence.

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