War against sexual assaults expands

LIHU’E — Lost in the recent uproar about the spate of sexual assaults, rape

and even a murder of women—all still unsolved—on the Westside in April, is

the fact that Kaua`i has stepped up its battle against sexual assaults on

multiple fronts.

In July, Kaua`i implemented the new Standardized Sex

Assault Evidence Kit, which has been adopted statewide.

The Sexual Assault

Treatment Center on Oahu pioneered the kit. Designed by a committee of experts,

the kit promotes uniform collection procedures, standardized medical protocols

and consistency in the investigation of sexual assault cases statewide.

Kaua`i County prosecuting attorney Michael Soong and the state attorney general

have also contributed funds so that Kaua`i can get up to speed in its

examination of victims of sexual violence, especially children, by purchasing a

state-of-the-art colposcope and exam chair to perform sexual assault

exams.

Currently, forensic sex assault exams are done at the emergency

rooms at Wilcox Memorial Hospital or Kaua`i Veterans Hospital.

According to

Renae Hamilton of the YWCA Sex Abuse Treatment Program, victims of sexual

assault have, on occasion, had to wait long periods before they are

examined.

In addition, Hamilton pointed out, since there are normally only

20 to 25 such exams per year on Kaua`i, some hospital personnel are not

familiar with exam procedures.

“Sexual assault is a very personal crime,

and each victim needs to receive the best care as promptly as possible,”

Hamilton said.

She said the search for a permanent room to use for all

exams is continuing.

“We’d like to have the room close to a hospital, if

not inside a hospital, and Wilcox is more centrally located,” Hamilton

said.

Another important component in Kaua`i’s battle against sexual assault

has been Shaylene Iseri-Carvalho, the county deputy prosecutor who handles all

the sex assault cases.

Funded by a four-year Byrne Grant which began April

1, 1997, Carvalho had prosecuted 51 cases as of Dec. 20, 1999, the latest for

which statistics are available.

Thirty seven of the accused offenders were

adults. Twenty-three have already been convicted; 13 trials are still

pending.

Only one adult prosecuted for sexual assault in the past three

years was acquitted.

Fourteen of the offenders set for trial were

juveniles. Nine have been convicted; five cases are yet to be

adjudicated.

Only 17 percent of the victims in the cases prosecuted were

adults at the time they were assaulted. But 84 percent of the juvenile victims

were assaulted by adults.

More of the victims are local residents than

visitors, Hamilton said.

“This past year, the number of visitors

(assaulted) has been unusual. It’s usually local people, and the (perpetrators)

are family or friends of family,” she explained.

According to Hamilton,

many of the perpetrators have problems with intimate relationships.

“They

try to gain that sense of intimacy by overcoming the victim. It has a lot to do

with (victim) vulnerability and accessibility,” she said.

Hamilton said the

increasing number of prosecutions, and convictions, should send a message to

rapists and sexual predators.

“I think we will continue to have more

victims coming forward, and (perpetrators) may see they can’t get away with it

and there are now some fairly serious consequences,” she said.

Last, but

certainly not least, Kaua`i was the site Aug. 7-11 of a Sexual Assault Response

Team SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) conference, held at the Holiday Inn

Sunspree Resort.

Prosecutors, nurse examiners, police officials, doctors

and sex-abuse counselors from all over the state attended. There were lectures,

panels and trainings over the four-day period.

The conference, which ended

Friday with a mock court at Kaua’i Circuit Court and a question and answer

session at the prosecutor’s office, “went really well,” Hamilton said.

A

Kaua’i SANE advisory board is being formed, and volunteers are being

sought.

“We would love to have community members, victims and a member of

the clergy on the board,” said Hamilton, who can be reached at

245-5959.

Anyone wishing to contribute to the fledgling SANE program on

Kaua’i can sending checks, directed to SANE, to the YWCA, 3094 Elua St.,

Lihu’e, HI 96766.

Staff writer Dennis Wilken can be reached at

245-3618 (ext. 252) and dwilken@pulitzer.net

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