Funding awarded to investigate, prosecute sexual assault crimes


COLUMBUS — Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine recently announced nearly $900,000 in grants to support law enforcement, prosecutors, and victim advocacy groups in their shared goal of supporting sexual assault survivors and holding attackers accountable.

The Ohio Department of Public Safety’s Office of Criminal Justice Services (OCJS) is awarding the funding as part of the new Ohio Sexual Assault Investigations Grant Program, according to a DeWine press release. DeWine launched the program in February to help with the costs associated with sexual assault investigations, criminal prosecution, and victim advocacy.

The program builds on the special initiative launched by DeWine while serving as Ohio’s attorney general to ensure thousands of previously untested rape kits from local law enforcement agencies were analyzed for DNA evidence.

“Those who commit sexual assault are among the worst of the worst, and we’re providing these resources not only to get predators off the streets but also to ensure that survivors have ongoing access to support,” said DeWine in a press release.

Entities receiving funding in the first round include:

• The Forensic Nursing Network will receive $244,841.23 to create training programs on drug-facilitated sexual assault kits and suspect kit collection. Funds will also be used to purchase sexual assault kits for use by forensic nurses.

• The Lawrence County Prosecutor’s Office will receive $161,355.88 to fund an investigator position to investigate leads that are developed from sexual assault kit testing in child sexual assault cases.

• The Columbus Division of Police will receive $350,000 to partner with the Ohio Attorney General’s Bureau of Criminal Investigation to analyze 175 sexual assault kits and enter any suspect DNA profiles into the national DNA database.

• The Ohio Crime Victim Justice Center will receive $100,000 to create a sexual assault kit training program and best practices guide focused on the expanded rights of victims.

• The Hamilton County Prosecutor’s Office will receive $43,410.57 to fund a victim advocate position to focus on supporting sexual assault survivors who have undergone a sexual assault kit examination.

The Ohio Sexual Assault Investigations Grant Program is funded with support from the Ohio General Assembly in the operating budget. OCJS is expected to begin taking applications for the next round of funding later this month.

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