Begun Center’s work with Cuyahoga County’s Sexual Assault Kits initiative helps set national standard in new approaches to handling rape and sexual assault

The Christian Science Monitor published in its February 21, 2016 edition an extended profile of the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office Sexual Assault Kits (SAK) initiative, noting the Begun Center’s role in helping make the region a national leader in reevaluating how it views and approaches sexual assault and its victims.

965528_1_0222-CSI-Cover_standardThe story notes that since 2009, the city has significantly accelerated its efforts to combine more-aggressive methods to take sexual offenders off the streets with more compassionate ways to help survivors reclaim their lives.

“The revamped mind-set has already achieved tangible results,” the story states. “A county task force investigating a backlog of more than 4,800 sexual assault cases has tallied a conviction rate of 90 percent, with 120 defendants sentenced so far. Authorities estimate they will hand down more than 1,000 indictments as they complete the project over the next few years.

“Moreover, agencies responsible for law enforcement, prosecution, health care, and social wellness have begun to work together instead of operating independently – and sometimes in conflict with each other – as they pursue cases and deal with victims. Through the county’s Sexual Assault Response Team, for example, they meet regularly, train together, and collaborate closely to ease the far-reaching effects of these once-neglected offenses.”

Rachel Lovell, Principal Investigator for the initiative, is quoted when reflecting on the groundbreaking work being done in Cleveland. “There’s not a lot of research-based literature on sexual violence,” she says. “So, our ultimate goal is to change the ways we talk about rape, treat rape victims, and support them.”

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