In Arizona, a rape is committed every two hours and 44 minutes impacting men, women and children in our community. This month we join with others across the nation to raise awareness about sexual assault and violence.
The Maricopa County Attorney’s Office has two nationally recognized Sex Crimes Bureaus that are responsible for prosecuting cases involving the sexual abuse of children and adults, child prostitution, child pornography and computer-related sex crimes. Recognizing the highly sensitive nature of these offenses, attorneys in these bureaus have undergone specialized training to meet the unique physical and emotional needs of victims of all ages. In addition, the Maricopa County Attorney’s Office contracts with medical professionals to provide the most sensitive and efficient examinations of abuse victims. These professionals are available on a 24-hour basis and their services allow victims to avoid long waits to be examined.
Since 2015, MCAO has received nearly $6 million in grants to test the bulk of 4,500 previously untested rape kits in Maricopa County. These grants provided the needed testing, but also funded a full-time program coordinator and three detectives, a crime-intel analyst and a part-time prosecutor and advocate to clear the backlog. Some cities in Maricopa County also received similar grant funding and were able to help with the remaining backlog. As Sexual Assault Awareness Month gets underway, MCAO is proud to say that we are nearly finished testing the entire backlog of rape kits. Resources are now being focused on assisting law enforcement partners with other cold-case sexual assault cases in Maricopa County and to provide advanced DNA testing.
In addition, MCAO continues to bring together law enforcement experts and victim advocate professionals to participate in an annual Maricopa County SAKI Sexual Assault Conference. Here experts share information on sexual assault investigation trends, community awareness and case studies. MCAO also launched the Arizona Sex Assault Investigators Network which provides sex crimes investigators the opportunity to share information about suspects and serial offenders with other jurisdictions.
If you or someone you know has been the victim of sexual assault, report it to police as soon as possible and get a free forensic medical exam from Scottsdale Healthcare/HonorHealth directly at (480) 312-6339. They are also able to provide referrals for any additional medical treatment or counseling services.
Remember, if someone sexually assaults you, it is not your fault. You are not to blame for someone else’s actions. For a toll-free rape crisis hotline, call (800) 656-HOPE (4673).