Rape Crisis Center of the Coastal Empire part of new sexual assault kit tracking pilot program

Crime & Safety

CHATHAM COUNTY, Ga. (WSAV) — According to the Georgia Bureau of Investigation (GBI), reported rapes have gone up in the last decade in Chatham County. Local advocates from the Rape Crisis Center of the Coastal Empire (RCC), say increasing awareness around resources and sexual assault is encouraging more survivors to seek help and report assault.

“I think it’s, people are more aware of services and that we are here to support them and not necessarily because a change in the environment of our community, but I think just people feeling more comfortable reporting,” says Executive Director of the Rape Crisis Center of the Coastal Empire, Doris L. Williams. 

According to data provided by RCC, they turned in 110 rape kits to law enforcement this year.  Williams says sometimes victims feel more comfortable seeking help from crisis centers than law enforcement.

“Our numbers have always been different from law enforcement because somebody reporting to us and we count it does not necessarily mean they reported it to law enforcement,” Williams said.

The clinic offers a range of services to survivors and how they proceed is up to them.

“They’ll either file an anonymous kit where they chose not to get involved with law enforcement but to allow us to collect the evidence and they have a year to change their mind and some of them don’t,” says Williams. 

Now, RCC is taking an extra step to ensure that those who chose to report have their rape kits handled properly. They are part of a pilot series for a sexual assault kit tracking system introduced last month by Georgia’s Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC). The tracking system is mandated by the sexual assault reform act, which was signed into law earlier this year. 

“We are actually going through that process of scanning kits and it has been so far so good,” Williams said.

The tracking system is meant to combat sexual assault kit backlogs and according to the CJCC, this will enable survivors to track the status of their kit as it moves through the criminal justice system. Williams says this will empower clients.

“We are able to track and see where that kit is at any given moment, so is the client, they’re able to see as well and I think it empowers them to keep everybody accountable, to keep everybody in that flow of making sure it’s smooth,” says Williams.

The Rape Crisis Center of the Coastal Empire offers a range of services including a 24-hour crisis line, hospital accompaniment, counseling, assistance navigating the court system should you choose to report, medical examinations to collect evidence for sexual assault kits and help reporting assault to law enforcement.

For more information on the services RCC offers CLICK HERE.

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