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Caruth Foundation's $2 Million Grant Funds Dallas County’s First Comprehensive Sexual Assault Treatment Program|
DALLAS — Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas and The Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center (DARCC) have received a generous $2 million grant from the W.W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation of Communities Foundation of Texas to support a new, comprehensive sexual assault treatment program – the first of its kind in Dallas County.
Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas has begun construction of Dallas County’s first Sexual Assault Forensic Exam (SAFE) Suites, which will be called the W.W. Caruth, Jr. Center for SAFE Healing. The 2,900-square foot space will be housed in the Texas Health Dallas emergency department and will provide comprehensive treatment for sexual assault victims. The grant will also help fund Dallas’ first certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) program to train nurses throughout the state to conduct sexual assault forensic exams and collect court-admissible forensic evidence to help prosecute sexual predators.
Grant funding will also support programming needs of the county’s first independent rape crisis center, Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center (DARCC), including post-trauma counseling and advocacy, as well as sexual assault education in local high schools and universities. The Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center provides free and unlimited advocacy and counseling support services to anyone affected by sexual violence or abuse and their families.
“Until now, Dallas has been the largest city in the nation without a certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner program or an independent rape crisis center,” said Brent Christopher, president and CEO of Communities Foundation of Texas. “The CFT Trustees are honored to make this grant of $2 million from the W.W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation of Communities Foundation of Texas to increase public safety by bringing this program to Dallas. This grant will significantly transform the resources accessible to those who are affected by sexual assault.”
City leaders and local law enforcement officials will join representatives of the Communities Foundation of Texas, Texas Health Dallas, Texas Health Presbyterian Foundation and DARCC for a media event today at 10 a.m. to announce the gift, unveil renderings of the space and provide local media information about the unique relationship that fostered creation of this critically important community service. The media event will be held at Beasley Conference Center in the main building, first floor of Texas Health Dallas, 8200 Walnut Hill Lane.
“Dallas is long overdue in creating a place of comprehensive support for sexual assault victims that will also help see their attackers are prosecuted,” said Douglas D. Hawthorne, FACHE, CEO of Texas Health Resources. “We are proud to partner with these community organizations to provide this vital service to our community.”
The goal of the SANE program and rape crisis center is to make Dallas a safer place to live by significantly increasing the number of sexual assaults reported to law enforcement and helping to get the perpetrators off the streets, Christopher said.
“Most of these criminals are repeat offenders,” he said, “so successfully prosecuting them is an important part of reducing the numbers of these crimes.”
Department of Justice statistics reveal that one in every four women will be sexually assaulted in her lifetime. Statistics show that fewer than 18 percent of sexual assault cases are reported to law enforcement. However, statistics also show that there is a 95 percent increase in successful prosecution of cases where evidence is collected by a SANE certified nurse. Dallas County, with a population of more than 2.5 million, had only 459 sexual assault cases of victims age 17 or older reported to the Dallas County District Attorney’s office in 2008. Since the launch of DARCC in September 2009 and the Texas Health Dallas SANE program in March 2010, sexual assault reporting in Dallas County has increased by 25 percent, according to the Dallas Police Department.
“The disparity in the number of reported sexual assault cases in Dallas County compared to our population is staggering,” said Cole Edmonson, MS, RN, FACHE, NEA-BC, vice president of patient care services and chief nursing officer at Texas Health Dallas. “We have an opportunity to make a significant positive impact on the lives of sexual assault victims in our community and to simultaneously help create a safer community for those who haven’t been affected by this devastating, violent crime. We are proud for our hospital and our nurses to be a part of this important program.”
Certification in the SANE program requires more than 180 hours of rigorous training for registered nurses. This includes more than 60 hours of classroom education and more than 90 hours of clinical training. SANE nurses are also required to perform a specified number of supervised patient forensic exams and observe 16 hours of criminal court proceedings. Texas Health Dallas held Dallas’ first SANE training programs in September and October.
“This significant gift from the W.W. Caruth, Jr. Foundation of Communities Foundation of Texas helps send a powerful message to our community that this violent crime is not tolerable,” said James K. (Jay) McAuley, CFRE, president of Texas Health Presbyterian Foundation. “We are very grateful to the Caruth Foundation for its support of our goals. Working together, we believe we can help better treat, educate and advocate for those affected by sexual assault crimes.”
“The prevalence of sexual violence is staggering and victimizes hundreds of children and adults across our county each year. By providing counseling and advocacy services to these victims and their families, we’re working to transform the traumatic effects of sexual abuse and empower victims to become survivors,” said Courtney Underwood, president of the Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center.
Since the 1970s, law enforcement organizations across Dallas County have referred all sexual assault victims to one local hospital. Sexual assault victims could be medically treated at other Dallas medical centers — but for forensic evidence to be collected the victims have had no choice but to travel to to this one hospital, prolonging the process for victims.
Texas Health Dallas and the Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center (DARCC) have worked closely with law enforcement and the district attorney’s office to provide a more comprehensive program that not only treats, supports and advocates for victims, but helps bring their attackers to justice.
If you or someone you know has been a victim of sexual assault, please call the Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center hotline at 972-641-RAPE.
About Communities Foundation of Texas
About Texas Health Presbyterian Hospital Dallas
About Dallas Area Rape Crisis Center