Jun 12, 2013 7:23 PM by Allison Bourne-Vanneck
New assistance is on its way for sexual assault victims in St Martin Parish. It's all through the help of a program called S.A.N.E., which stands for "Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners."
The program will provide sexual assault kits at the parish hospital, and allows for up to 48 cases to be handled a year.
Officers say they are seeing more sexual assault cases in the parish, and 80 percent of them are juvenile victims.
This week about 150 officers are learning how S.A.N.E. nurses can assist them on sexual assault cases.
"I'll be going through with the officers, what kind of things I collect in my kit, what kind of evidence they can expect...What the paperwork will detail for them as an investigating officer," S.A.N.E. Nurse, Rebecca Havlik said.
The S.A.N.E. program assistance goes beyond treatment and evidence collection.
"They are also there when law enforcement interviews them and whenever they go to court, it is an option that the patient has the advocate there," Havlik said.
Lieutenant Dina Theriot handles sexual assault cases in St. Martin Parish. She says the program will help officers better handle such cases.
"This victim will be at St. Martin hospital, getting their needs met and being taken care of and not being re-victimized while we're on the streets trying to apprehend the suspect," Lt. Dina Theriot said.
The St. Martin District Attorney's office, hopes that the program that's started here will also be a model for St. Mary and Iberia Parish.
"This is a positive step, that we believe is going to make the reporting of sexual assaults more common place," Assistant District Attorney Chester Cedars said.
"And it's going to result in the conviction of the animals that commit these crimes more easily obtained," Cedars said.
July first is the start date for the S.A.N.E. Program in St. Martin, which is the second parish in Acadiana to enact the program. It's already in operation in Lafayette.