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Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen Convenes Inaugural Meeting of His Statewide Sexual Assault Response Team (SART)

 

 

Attorney General Van Hollen will welcome members of the newly created task force as they meet tomorrow at 10 a.m. for the first meeting of the statewide SART.

 

MADISON — Attorney General J.B. Van Hollen is pleased to announce the creation of the Attorney General's Statewide Sexual Assault Response Team, or SART, which will convene for the first time in Madison the morning of December 14, 2012, at the Office of Justice Assistance. This team is composed of a multidisciplinary group of dedicated professionals well-versed in the complex issues surrounding sexual assault, with the purpose of improving the management of and payment for sexual assault forensic kits and exams. Attorney General Van Hollen will join the group Friday, December 14, 2012, at 10:30 a.m.

 

(Click “here” for a meeting agenda.)

 

“Time and time again we have witnessed the successful handling of individual sexual assault cases when we rely on multidisciplinary teams. It makes sense to bring the multidisciplinary approach to the state level and to have these issues addressed by this talented group of individuals who have agreed to work with me,” Van Hollen said.


“We are pleased to see the Attorney General take this step,” offered Pennie Meyers, Interim Executive Director for the Wisconsin Coalition Against Sexual Assault (WCASA). “Ensuring victims have access to forensic exams is a vital step toward successful prosecution of offenders and helping victims move forward in their healing as survivors. The SART model is the correct approach; it takes the participation of all of us to confront and end sexual violence.”
 

One of the first items for the Attorney General's Statewide Sexual Assault Response Team will be addressing the management of sexual assault forensic kits. The task force also will examine the processing of payments for sexual assault forensic exams. The SART endeavors to accomplish the following:

 

  1. To ensure all sexual assault kits are created, distributed, used, collected and sent to the Wisconsin State Crime Lab in an efficient and expedient manner;
  2. To ensure the seamless payment of forensic exams in a manner that prevent victims from being billed in the process;
  3. To ensure the protocol and procedure of anonymous kit collection and testing;
  4. To provide a “best practices” model for sexual assault forensic kits and the billing of Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) exams;
  5. To identify other issues regarding SANE programs.

 

Van Hollen has made addressing the issue of sexual assault a priority in his administration. Since taking office, he has prioritized the analysis of evidence at the State Crime Lab in sexual assault cases, cutting the average turnaround time for such cases in half. In addition, he hired and promoted an Assistant Attorney General-Violence Against Women Resource Prosecutor (VAWRP), who specializes in training and prosecuting crimes against women, including sexual assaults. The State Prosecutors Education and Training Program, which is housed at the Department of Justice (DOJ), routinely trains district attorneys on the effective handling of sexual assault cases. Through the budget process, the Attorney General has advocated for more reliable and sufficient funding for the Sexual Assault Victim Services (SAVS) Program, which provides funding to sexual assault service providers in many Wisconsin communities.

 

Members of the statewide SART were appointed by the Attorney General and include law enforcement professionals, prosecutors, advocates, sexual assault nurse examiners, hospital administrators and policy makers. The team will be chaired by Jill Karofsky, Director of the Office of Crime Victim Services at the DOJ and Assistant Attorney General Audrey Skwierawski (VAWRP). The DOJ's Division of Law Enforcement Services Administrator, Brain O'Keefe, also will serve as a member. A complete member list is available here. The team is expected to meet several times a year.