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Becker County agencies form new team to address sexual assault, abuse

Sexual assault and abuse: It's something that can be hard to talk about, but it's a real problem: According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), an American is sexually assaulted once every 92 seconds -- and once in every nin...

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Women raise their hands against sexual abuse,anti-trafficking and stopping violence against women, International Women's Day

Sexual assault and abuse: It's something that can be hard to talk about, but it's a real problem: According to the Rape, Abuse & Incest National Network (RAINN), an American is sexually assaulted once every 92 seconds - and once in every nine minutes, that victim is a child.

In fact, statistics from the National Sexual Violence Resource Center indicate that one in four girls and one in six boys will be sexually abused before they turn 18 years old.

In Becker County, a group of social services and law enforcement agencies have banded together to form a Sexual Assault Response Team (BCSART), dedicated to serving the victims of sexual assault and bringing the perpetrators to justice.

Since last November, representatives from the Becker County Attorney's Office and Sheriff's Department; Detroit Lakes Police Department; the Lakes Crisis & Resource Center (LCRC); White Earth DOVE (Down On Violence Everyday) program and Essentia Health St. Mary's, along with other social service and law enforcement agencies, have been meeting each month to develop a common set of protocols for handling sexual assault and abuse cases, with the intent "to ensure the integrity and quality of the criminal justice process while meeting the needs of victims and holding offenders accountable," according to the proclamation of intent that each SART team member signed in December.

"We all want to be on the same page and do what's best for the victims of sexual assault," says Becker County Sheriff Todd Glander, who has been a member of the BCSART since its inception. "Our ultimate goal is to hold offenders accountable."

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In order to do that, developing a common set of protocols for handling all sexual assault cases in the county is essential, he added.

"From the advocate's point of view, working with victims of all ages, it's about giving them a voice so they can get their lives back, and letting them know they don't have to be scared... that the community is there to support them," says team member Rachel McMartin, who works at LCRC.

"The whole idea of SART is to collaborate, to work together to determine how we can all better serve the community," says team member Leona Ulrich, who also works at LCRC. "We're learning a lot."

"Everyone came to this table and worked together," adds fellow SART team member and LCRC advocate Nichole DeConcini, "and it's already showing some great results in serving victims, by working together instead of against each other."

April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month, and in recognition of that, the members of the BCSART are hosting a free screening of the award-winning documentary, "Roll Red Roll," which is describe as "a true crime thriller that goes behind the headlines to uncover the deep-seated and social media-fueled 'boys will be boys' culture at the root of high school sexual assault in America."

Social media, vigilante justice, and "how one community reconciles itself with sexual assault" are also themes of the 80-minute film, says Ulrich.

The film screening, set for 6:30 p.m. on Tuesday, April 30, in the conference center at M State in Detroit Lakes, will be followed by a brief discussion of the documentary and its themes.

"It's our first public event," Ulrich says. "It's a way of introducing the team to the community."

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Due to the nature of the documentary's subject matter, it's not recommended for viewing by anyone under 13 years of age, though parents may bring younger children to the event if they so choose.

For more information about the documentary, please visit https://rollredrollfilm.com .

Related Topics: DETROIT LAKESBECKER COUNTY
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