By Jessie R. Box
Greene Publishing, Inc.
Refuge House and Florida Council Against Sexual Violence (FCASV) hosted a two-day training on Enhancing Sexual Assault Investigations and Prosecutions through Sexual Assault Response Teams (SART) and the training was conducted at North Florida Community College by AEquitas; a program of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape. The training was provided by Olga Trujillo from Olga Trujillo Consulting.
The training covered topics such as investigating and prosecuting the non-stranger rapist, coordinating a victim-centered community response, interviewing victims and defining vicarious trauma.
A SART team is a community-wide multidisciplinary coordinating group that promotes a comprehensive response to sexual violence. Some of the members of the Madison SART that was able to attend the two-day training included City of Madison Police Department Sergeant Investigator James Roebuck, Communications Bureau Commander Lt. Terry Lenz, Warrant Officer and volunteer victim advocate Tammy Webb, Madison County Sheriff’s Office PREA Coordinator Lt. Kathrine West and Billye Robinson, RN, SANE and an instructor for the Practical Nursing Program at NFCC.
According to Madison County SART Coordinator Cherie Rowell, it was not just residents of North Florida that attended. Some came from Miami, Fort Walton Beach and Homestead to attend the two-day training.
The four trainers that discussed the various topics were Thomas McDevitt, who retired as a 35-year veteran of the Philadelphia Police Department, including 17 years supervising sexual assault investigations; Kim Nash, who is part of a team of forensic nurses at Memorial Hospital in Colorado Springs, that provides forensic care to more than 1,600 patients per year who are victims of violence; Jennifer Sommers, who is a Special Assistant Attorney General at the New York State Attorney General’s Office; and John Wilkinson, who is an Attorney Advisor with AEquitas and presents on trial strategy, legal analysis and policy, and ethical issues related to violence against women at local, state, national and international levels.
The team of trainers used information based on real cases. They showed videos of past court cases and interviews from the victim or survivor. Also shown were interviews of predators and a reenactment of a predator.
“The training taught the importance of each member of a SART, their role and how to work together,” said Rowell.