Monday, September 18, 2017

Colorado Releases Helpful Guidelines on Sexual Assault Reporting Options

A statewide group of experts led by the Colorado Coalition Against Sexual Assault and the Colorado Division of Criminal Justice have released a helpful new set of guidelines to help those who work with victims of sexual assault understand Colorado's sexual assault reporting laws.

"Sexual Assault Reporting Options: Guidelines for Response" was compiled by the statewide Forensic Compliance Team (FCT), a group of multidisciplinary stakeholders from across the criminal justice system, medical, and advocacy sectors. The document contains step-by-step information on Colorado’s three reporting options for sexual assault survivors, payment options, advocacy recommendations, evidence testing, and other useful information related to the support of sexual assault survivors in Colorado.

It was created in response to a needs assessment the Forensic Compliance Team conducted in 2013 in an effort to provide community stakeholders specific support and information on implementing Colorado’s Violence against Women Act forensic compliance laws.

Its creators hope the document will help local law enforcement, victim advocates and others understand Colorado sexual assault reporting laws as well as the roles and responsibilities of partners in the criminal justice system, medical, and victim advocacy sectors.

"Each of us are committed to the same goal: supporting survivors and holding sex offenders accountable," wrote Lisa Ingarfield,  Director of the Sexual Assault Response Program within DCJ's Office for Victims Programs, in a letter announcing the publication.

Under current law, specified medical licensees and nurses are required to report a sexual assault to law enforcement only if evidence is collected; if a report is required, the victim can choose which type of report is made:
1. Law enforcement report,
2. Medical report, or
3. Anonymous report.

The Guidelines define what each of these reporting options is and provides suggested best practices for how to handle each type of report.

  • Law Enforcement Report: When a victim chooses to obtain a medical forensic exam and chooses to participate in the criminal justice system at that time.
  • Medical Report: A victim chooses to obtain a medical forensic exam but at that time chooses to not participate in the criminal justice system. Evidence and information to law enforcement is released with victim identifying information. A medical reporting victim can choose to have evidence tested.
  • Anonymous Report: A victim chooses to obtain a medical forensic exam but at that time chooses to not participate in the criminal justice system. Evidence and information to law enforcement is released without victim identifying information. An anonymous reporting victim is consenting to evidence storage only.

  • Nationally, since 2005, there has been a philosophical shift and accompanying statutory changes (at the state and federal level) regarding response to sexual assault victims. That shift acknowledges that providing victim-centered reporting options can begin to restore the power and control victims lose during an assault, promoting improved long-term outcomes for victims, improved investigations, and stronger prosecutions. Colorado’s current statutory structure enables victims to determine a course of action, with multidisciplinary responders acting from the victims’ decisions.

    Access the full Guidelines document on the CCASA web site.

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