INFORMATION FOR VICTIMS OF RAPE OR FORCIBLE SODOMY
State law and University policy provide certain rights for victims of sexual assault. Official Code of Georgia Annotated: Georgia State Law Section 17-18-2, if you are the victim of rape or forcible sodomy, you have certain rights under the law. Rape or forcible sodomy by a stranger or a person known to you, including rape or forcible sodomy by a person married to you, is a crime. You can ask the government's lawyer to prosecute a person who has committed a crime. The government pays the cost of prosecuting for crimes. If you are the victim of rape or forcible sodomy, you should contact a local police department or other law enforcement agency immediately. A police officer will come to take a report and collect evidence. You should keep any clothing you were wearing at the time of the crime as well as any other evidence such as bed sheets. Officers will take you to the hospital for a medical examination. You should not shower or douche before the examination. The law requires that the Georgia Crime Victims Emergency Fund pay for the medical examination to the extent of the cost for the collection of evidence of the crime.
Rights of Victims Of Sexual Assaults- It is the policy and practice of the University of West Georgia to provide an environment that is sensitive and responsive to victims of sexual assaults. In accordance with this position, the university has established a policy for students, employees, and others who may become victims of such assaults on its campuses. Victims are entitled to the following rights:
- To have sexual assaults treated with seriousness.
- To be treated with dignity.
- To have sexual assaults investigated and adjudicated by appropriate criminal and civil authorities.
- To receive the full and prompt cooperation and assistance of university personnel in notifying the proper authorities.
- To be free from any kind of pressure by university personnel not to report crimes, or to report crimes as lesser offenses than the victims perceive.
- To have legal assistance, or to have others present, in any campus disciplinary proceedings in the same manner that the institution permits to the accused and to be notified of the outcome of such proceedings.
- To receive the full and prompt cooperation of campus personnel in obtaining, securing, and maintaining evidence as may be necessary to the proof of criminal sexual assaults in legal proceedings.
- To be made aware of, and assisted in exercising, options regarding mandatory testing of sexual assault suspects for communicable diseases and to be notified of the results of such testing.
- To receive counseling from mental health services established by the university or from other victim-service agencies.
- To be protected by campus personnel to the extent reasonably feasible from unnecessary or unwanted contact with alleged assailants.
Campus organizations that assist victims of sexual assaults shall be granted the privileges afforded all organizations registered on campus. Victims of sexual assault may contact the following offices for assistance:
- University Police 678-839-6000
- Health Services 678-839-6452
- Counseling & Career Development 678-839-6428
- Carroll Rape Crisis Center 770-834-7273
- Title IX Coordinator Index
Incidents of sexual assault at West Georgia are rare. However, they do occur and it is important for all members of the community to be aware of the potential for these crimes and to take proper measures to prevent becoming a victim. The University Police, Student Health Services as well as the Carroll Rape Crisis Center offers classes upon request on how to avoid becoming a victim, what to do if you become a victim and other issues related to sexual assault. We also offer female self defense classes developed by RAD Systems. We encourage any student, employee or group interested in learning more about this subject to contact University Police Office of Professional Standards & Training at 678-839-5280 or email email@example.com.
If You Become A Victim
We hope that this never happens to you, but if it does be aware that the University is here to help you during this traumatic time. If you do become a victim there are some things you need to know:
- Regardless of the circumstances surrounding the assault, remember that you are a victim and should not avoid seeking help out of embarrassment. The University is here to help you and will assist in whatever manner that it can. The University Police will investigate and prosecute if the assault occurred on campus. If it occurred off campus, we can assist you with contacting the proper law enforcement unit who has jurisdiction in the case and coordinating with that agency. Counseling & Career Development (678-839-6428) provides counseling services while Student Health (678-839-6452) will assist with medical treatment and follow up as needed. Residence Life (678-839-6426) and Student Services (678-839-6423) will coordinate to deal with issues involving housing and classes. Professional mental health providers such as the University of West Georgia Student Development Center, The Student Health Center and religious counselors are exempt from reporting obligations, but may refer patients to a confidential reporting system by completing an anonymous referral form that can be found on the departmental website at Confidential Sexual Assault Report .
- You are in control of the situation. It is your decision if you wish to prosecute the case in court, have it presented to the Student Judiciary, or not pursue the matter further. You also have the right to change your mind as to whether or not you wish to prosecute. You may also defer your decision to a future date within the limits of the law and approval of the district attorney. (See below concerning the preservation of evidence.)
- It is very important that you seek medical treatment as soon as possible. By having a medical exam, a doctor can check for internal injuries and exposure to disease and begin treatment immediately. The Health Services Physician and nursing staff are certified Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANE) and are available to provide a full medical examination and complete a rape kit. The staff is on-call and available to assist students who are victims of sexual assault, regardless if the assault occurred on or off campus.
- We encourage all victims of sexual assault to have the physician perform a rape kit so that all relevant evidence is preserved in case you choose to prosecute the case. Having an exam does not mean that you have to prosecute but provides you with critical information that will be needed in court if you do chose to prosecute at a later date.
- Being a victim of sexual assault isn't something that just goes away. Tell someone and get help.
Reporting the Crime
If you do become a victim of a sexual assault, you should do the following:
- Get to a safe place and then phone the police.
- If you are on campus, call 678-839-6000.
- If you are off campus, call 911.
- Tell the dispatcher that you have been sexually assaulted and answer the questions the dispatcher asks you. Some of the questions may not seem important, but your answers will assist the police in serving you better. If the perpetrator may still be in the area, let the dispatcher know.
- Wait for the police to arrive. Do not change clothes, wash or in anyway alter your state as this may destroy evidence. For the same reason, do not alter the site of the assault if that is where you are calling from. Do not drink or take any medications until the police have arrived.
- Once the police have arrived, the officers will guide you as to what will happen next. You will be interviewed about the incident and then, if you agree, you will be transported to the Student Health or a hospital for an examination by a physician.
What Will Follow
If a suspect is identified and sufficient evidence exists, the police will obtain an arrest warrant from a judge. Some jurisdictions will require you to sign the warrant in the presence of a judge. In other jurisdictions, the police will sign the warrant on behalf of the victim. On campus, it is the policy of the University Police to sign the warrant unless the victim asks to do so.
Once the warrant is served, the accused will be arrested and placed in jail. A magistrate will determine if the person is to be granted bail based on various factors. These include the level of violence associated with the crime, the probability of the person appearing for trial, and the background of the accused. If bail is granted, restrictions can be placed on the person, such as not making contact with the victim, not drinking alcoholic beverages, and being home before a certain hour.
If the accused pleads not guilty, the District Attorney will review the case prepared by the police. If the DA accepts the case, it will be presented to the Grand Jury for indictment. An indictment is a finding by the Grand Jury that sufficient evidence exists to send the case forward for a full trial. If the Grand Jury issues an indictment the case is forwarded to Superior Court for trial. During the trial the district attorney will prosecute the case on behalf of the victim. The accused will be represented by an attorney and has the right to challenge evidence and cross-examine witnesses including the victim.
In Georgia, state law prohibits the publishing of the name or photograph of a rape victim. This includes publication in the local media as well as University publications.
Preventing Stranger to Stranger Assault
- At night- walk along the lighted main roads. Avoid taking shortcuts through wooded areas. Familiarize your self with the locations and operation of the emergency phones which are located throughout campus.
- Ride the shuttle bus - it operates Sunday through Thursday until 10:00 PM.
- When possible, walk with a friend or a group - match your schedules with others so that if you need to go to the library or University Center, you have others to go with. Do the same on the walk back to your hall.
- If you come in late, call or go by the University Police Dispatch Center at Aycock Hall and request an officer meet you at your car and escort you to your hall. Never let anyone into the residence hall that you don't know. If the person doesn't have an access card, they need to use the phone by the reader door to notify the hall staff to request access.
- Report unescorted males in the women's halls to the RA staff or University Police. Report all suspicious persons to the University Police immediately.
- Don't allow anyone in your room that you don't know. If someone is soliciting in your hall, contact the University Police immediately.
- DO NOT prop open the exterior doors to yours or anyone else's residence halls. Always keep the door to your room locked, even when you're going to be gone for only a short time. When you're sleeping, make sure the door is always locked.
Preventing Sexual Assault by an Acquaintance
- When attending a party or in any circumstance where alcohol is being served, drink responsibly. National statistics show that the vast majority of women when sexual assaulted by a person she knows, both the victim and assailant had consumed sufficient alcohol to be considered drunk. If you remain sober, your are better prepared to perceive when a situation is getting dangerous and you're physically capable of getting away.
- If you attend a social event and get drunk, go with a friend who can watch over you. Just like the "designated driver", a designated "guardian angel" may prevent you from suffering the trauma associated with being a victim of sexual assault. This approach works well with groups as well as individuals.
- When going out with someone, establish the ground rules early. If the person you're with appears to want to have sexual relations and you don't, tell the person in very clear terms that you are not interested. Do not send mixed signals, which can be misinterpreted. If he continues to press the issue, ask someone else to take you home or call for a cab. Better to offend someone than be assaulted.
- If you feel uncomfortable with a person, follow your senses. Regardless of all the good qualities the person may appear to have, listen to your "sixth sense" before you agree to go out with him.
- When you go out, be prepared in case something goes wrong. Carry a cell phone in case you need to call someone to pick you up.
- When you go out with someone new let a friend know whom that person is and where you are going to go. Give a physical description of the person and his vehicle if the friend doesn't know him.
- If you decide to go on a date with someone you don't know very well, or take a trip but you don't want anyone to know, e-mail the University Police at firstname.lastname@example.org. Leave a message telling us when you are leaving and returning, where you are going, whom you are going with, the person's description, where you met, the type of car he drives and a license number if possible. Give us a password so we can verify that you are the one sending the return e-mail . If something happens, we have a place to start looking for you. When you return, e-mail us back from the same computer , give us your password, tell us that you are OK and we'll delete the E-mail.