Criminal Justice Update
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Criminal Justice Update

From the Attorney General

It is crucial that Ohio sexual assault victims have access to adequate victim services.
Thankfully, victim services have changed dramatically since I was a county prosecutor in the 1970s, when crime victims were lucky if their “services” included an ambulance or cruiser. Today, my office provides resources for victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, identity theft, patient abuse and neglect, and many other crimes. We also administer grants that fund nearly 300 victim service programs across Ohio.

However, not all counties offer the same level of assistance to sexual assault victims. Last year at this time, my Crime Victim Services staff — in partnership with local and state experts — began a county-by-county analysis of services available to Ohio crime victims. We found that comprehensive sexual assault services are offered in only 36 of 88 counties; 54 counties provide some assistance, and eight have few or no services.
Through a new Sexual Assault Services Expansion Program in my office and collaborations with service providers, legislators, and local officials, we are working to change that. Our goal is to ensure that a quick, compassionate emergency response is available to all victims of sexual assault — any day, any time, anywhere.
The need is clear. Based on its most recent data on the subject, the Centers for Disease Control says nearly 20 percent of U.S. women have been sexually assaulted. In Ohio, approximately 743,000 women are rape survivors. Data from the Ohio Incident-Based Reporting System shows nearly 8,000 sexual assaults were reported to law enforcement in 2011. The Rape, Abuse, Incest National Network estimates 54 percent of sexual assaults go unreported.
Under the new program, we will channel grant dollars and work with our partners statewide to place regional sexual assault service coordinators in regions of greatest need. They will recruit and train volunteers; work with medical, criminal justice, and mental health professionals, and build relationships with local organizations.
Within five years, I want to ensure that compassionate, comprehensive services are available to sexual assault victims in all Ohio counties. If we can get there sooner, we will.
Very respectfully yours,
Mike DeWine
Ohio Attorney General