BATON ROUGE, LA (WAFB) - The East Baton Rouge Coroner is creating a certified team of medical professionals to collect evidence from sexual assault victims.
The goal is to protect victims and better equip prosecutors with the evidence they need to prosecute sex predators.
Forensic scientists are experts at collecting biological evidence. In most cities, the coroner's office is called in sexual assault cases. However, EBR Coroner, Dr. Beau Clark, said it has not been done in the parish in a long time. He added that is about to change.
"We have eleven nurses contracted, two trainers (nurses), myself, and four other physicians who have done the training," Clark said.
Once they are certified, the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) will go out to local hospitals to collect evidence from victims. Dr. Clark said the team will be part of a larger group that treats the patient.
"The hospital will be in charge of their care, my office/team will be in charge of the collection of the (evidence) kit, the district attorney will prosecute the case, law enforcement will handle the investigation of case, and STAR advocacy group would help," Clark said.
To provide care more efficiently, the coroner's office and healthcare providers are asking that, if possible, sexual assault victims report to the following hospitals: Men should go to Baton Rouge General at Bluebonnet, women to Woman's Hospital on Airline Highway, and children to Our Lady of the Lake on Essen Lane.
Vice President of Mission at OLOL, Coletta Barrett, said the hospital is already taking an active role in the new process.
"We put workflows together. We did communication diagrams to make sure we knew what was happening to make sure we were all on the same page," Barrett said.
Clark hopes having a solid response team in place will make reporting sex crimes easier on victims and the consequences tougher for their attackers.
"Our goal at the end of the day is, if there is a sex assault predator out there, we want to do our role as the coroner's office to participate in the team effort to stop that," Clark said.
The SANE team will simply collect the evidence. It is then sent to the Louisiana State Police Crime Lab for analysis. It is up to the victim to decide whether they want law enforcement involved in their case.