Victims of sexual assault in Delaware County should receive consistent care and treatment, no matter which agency they turn to.
Officials from more than a dozen Delaware County agencies signed an updated protocol agreement on April 8 in an effort to unify the way sex abuse cases are handled.
On the morning of March 8, officials met and signed an agreement adopting the Delaware County Sexual Assault Response Team protocol. April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month.
According to the newly adopted protocol, the team is “dedicated to providing a continuum of care and services to survivors of sexual assault in a manner that promotes wellness, empowerment and dignity to the survivor.”
Jason Campbell, a detective from the Delaware County Sheriff’s Office and one of the authors of the protocol’s update, said the county’s Sexual Assault Response Team protocol has existed for at least 10 years but this revision now incorporates organizations like the Delaware County Board of Developmental Disabilities that were previously left out of the document.
Campbell said the protocol adopts a “multidisciplinary approach” to handling sexual assault cases and lays out best practices and procedures to ensure that anyone who reports abuse will receive the same level of treatment. Campbell said that before the protocol existed, agencies would handle reports differently, which could cause problems because they were inconsistent.
“We are all on the same page for best practices and have a cohesive response to [sexual assault reports,]” Campbell said. “We want people to know that we have this set up, that we have a method set up to help.”
The protocol outlines the procedures and best practices for dozens of organizations, including children services agencies, medical service agencies, law enforcement, hospital staff, social services, mental health services and school districts, and outlines how to speak with victims, when to contact police and when to seek medical assistance.
First assistant county prosecutor Kyle Rohrer said the uniformity of care will be an asset if charges are pressed and an investigation is conducted.
“The more we can get everyone on the same page the more consistent our investigations will be,” Rohrer said.
Delaware County Sheriff Russell Martin said the protocol builds off the work the county has done in the past and hopes it shows survivors of sexual assault that they will get the best response possible by reporting sexual abuse to county agencies.
“I couldn’t be more proud of this community and all the men and women who set the bar with the way we handle sexual assault,” Martin said.
“It’s nice to see a smaller county functioning like a large county,” said Laura Kaiser, the sexual assault nurse examiner coordinator at Mount Carmel Health.
According to officials, Delaware County is the first county to have adopted a “uniform protocol” in Ohio.
The protocol can be viewed on HelpLine’s website — http://helplinedelmor.org.
Glenn Battishill can be reached at 740-413-0903 or on Twitter @BattishillDG.