EYEWITNESS LOCAL NEWSCOMBATING SEXUAL ASSAULT
from Eyewitness News Online
Ohio Attorney General Aims To Help Sexual Assault Victims
Reported by: Darrah Wilcox
Web Producer: Darrah Wilcox
Reported: Mar. 20, 2013 4:58 PM EDT
Updated: Mar. 21, 2013 3:06 PM EDT
Columbus, Franklin County , Ohio
On the heels of the Steubenville rape trial that gained national attention, Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine unveiled a new plan aimed at helping sexual assault victims.
DeWine announced the efforts Wednesday morning at a press conference in Columbus.
"I'm announcing today that my office is implementing a plan - a plan that will begin immediately to address existing gaps in crime victim's services," DeWine said.
A study conducted through his office beginning in May 2012 found 59 percent of counties in Ohio don't have comprehensive direct sexual assault services.
"Our goal is to ensure a quick, compassionate emergency response is available to any victim of sexual assault any day of the week, any time of the day, anywhere in the state of Ohio," DeWine said.
The sexual assault services expansion program aims to do several things, including providing grant funding for coordinators to promote awareness and better meet the needs of sexual assault survivors. It's something local advocates are happy to hear.
"I think it's wonderful, and whatever we can do to go along with that program, or whatever we can learn, or however we can educate our community, we will do whatever we can do to do that," Lawrence County Domestic Violence Task Force Director Elaine Payne said.
Payne is hoping DeWine's efforts will empower more victims to seek help.
"I think this will shed a light on this subject and hopefully people will be more willing to talk about it," she said.
Also Wednesday, Ohio Representatives Nan Baker and Kirk Schuring announced proposed legislation for a Rape Crisis Program Trust Fund. A $100 sex offender registration fee would raise money to be put into this fund and the money would be used for eligible rape crisis programs to provide services like hotlines, victim advocacy and support services.
The Lawrence County Domestic Violence Task Force will hold a special event next month in recognition of National Crime Victims' Rights Week, which is April 21-27. It will be a panel discussion about victims' rights on April 23 at 6:00 p.m. in Bowman Auditorium at Ohio University Southern Campus.
A domestic violence victim will join Lawrence County Sheriff Jeff Lawless, Lawrence County Prosecutor Brigham Anderson, Judge Don Capper and others to talk about "taking control after a crime."
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