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Army says it has improved sexual assault response
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Part 1

This story is the first in a two-part series about the Army making improvements in response to sexual assaults.

A recent Department of Defense task force study shows the Army has improved its response to sexual assault, but recommends more can still be done.
Members of Winn Army Community Hospital’s Sexual Assault Response Team,
Fort Stewart’s criminal investigation department agents, victim advocates and military legal counselors couldn’t agree more.
“We’re always looking to improve,” said Susan Domine with the Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield Family Advocacy Program.
Domine said the military mindset on sexual assault is changing, and the Army’s priority is to ensure victims receive the services they need.
“It’s important for the victim to know they’re not alone,” she said.
The team has recently initiated a survey of victims who have received services, to see how the response to sexual assault can be improved.
Domine says the Army has made strides in effectively assisting victims and is doing more to educate soldiers about sexual assault prevention.
One measure that has made a difference, she said, is restrictive reporting. 
Restrictive reporting gives a victim the option of receiving immediate medical care and counseling without disclosing information about the crime to investigators or their command.
If victims choose to make an unrestrictive report, then an official investigation would begin.
The first step in assisting a victim is to encourage her to seek medical care, say team members. A victim advocate would then meet a victim at the hospital, and assist her throughout the recovery process. Then, depending on whether a victim wants to make a restrictive or unrestrictive report, other social services and law enforcement would be notified.
Trinity Ingram, Winn’s Sexual Assault Response Team coordinator, said once a victim’s immediate medical needs are taken care of, a victim who was assaulted would be offered a forensic evidence test within 72 hours of arriving at the hospital.
“Beyond the 72-hour period a victim would be treated by an ED (emergency department) physician,” Ingram said.
Victims would be tested for pregnancy and sexually transmitted disease and given a prophylactic, she said. And they would be screened by a social worker.
“We do a mental status exam to make sure they’re doing OK,” said Rose Mullice, chief of social work services at Winn. Mullice said if a victim seems to be functioning adequately, they are given an appointment for counseling the next day.
Victim advocates can also be present during investigative interviews with law enforcement, should a victim choose to move forward with an official investigation.
CID special agent Roger L. Jones, Sexual Assault Team chief, said sexual assault investigations can “take quite a long time.”
“It varies with the victim,” Jones said. “Different people react differently.”
Jones said CID agents train with victim advocates to understand the trauma victims suffer from sexual assault.
“We wait on what a victim is prepared to provide,” he said. “It may take several interviews.”
Christopher Grey, with the Army CID public affairs office in Washington, D.C., said CID hired “highly qualified” experts in sexual assault response to properly train its agents worldwide.
“We wanted our agents to have a new and fresh perspective on sexual assaults,” Grey said. “No means no.”
Grey added CID has agents “on the ground” with deployed troops, as well as stateside.
“It’s the same organization there as here,” Jones said. “They just have helmets and body armor (when in theater).”
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