The Harris County District Attorney’s Office provided $165,000 to help fund a new partnership to make qualified sexual assault nurse examiners available on-demand to seven area universities, District Attorney Kim Ogg announced at a press conference at Rice University on Thursday.
“We’ve taken asset forfeiture dollars and re-invested them in victims and victims’ services by helping Texas Forensic Nurse Examiners (TXFNE) hire, train and use more forensic interviewers,” Ogg said. “Combine that with seminars on preventing sexual assault, a dedicated hotline and access to support groups and students have more help in preventing and dealing with sexual assault.”
She noted that forensic interviewers, like certified sexual assault nurse examiners (SANEs), have been trained to gather better evidence to help convict attackers. That evidence might be physical matter, like DNA, or it could be information gleaned by asking questions that are sensitive to the victim’s ordeal.
The initiative expands the outreach for TXFNE, which already provides sexual assault nurse examiners on demand in many criminal justice situations.
By funding the new partnership between TXFNE and seven Houston area universities, students will now have free access to sexual assault examinations by a qualified interviewer including transportation to the interview, a sexual assault hotline, assistance with legal services, access to support groups, a tailor-made response for treatment. Campus communities will also have access to future seminars on preventing sexual assault presented by the District Attorney’s Office.
Colleges and universities participating so far include Rice University, the University of Houston, Prairie View A&M, Houston Community College, Texas Southern University, Lee College and the South Texas College of Law.