AUSTIN, Texas (FOX 7 Austin) - Right now, APD says they're working on making big changes to the sex crimes division. This is to make sure 2019’s data is recorded correctly and, cases aren't being cleared incorrectly.
Yesterday, APD released the full Department of Public Safety's audit into their rape case investigations. In that audit, it says of 95 rape cases that were cleared, dozens were classified incorrectly.
FOX 7 Austin’s Destiny Chance spoke with the SAFE Alliance, which serves survivors of abuse, violence and sexual assault. "We're glad this issue's come to light, I think it's important we get the accurate data. It's important for so many reasons. One is so the community can have confidence in our criminal justice system."
Coni Huntsman Stogner with the SAFE Alliance says they're encouraged, now that some recent training and more protocol has been put into place within the Austin Police Department, after finding out dozens of sexual assault cases were cleared incorrectly.
Chief Brian Manley held a press conference Thursday this week and says big changes are already set in motion. All detectives will be retrained, and will also be prompted with a template they must fill out which thoroughly explains why they're exceptionally clearing a case.
Stogner says, "At SAFE we play a very important role when it comes to survivors because we operate Eloise House which is the clinic on site where we perform the vast majority of exams for sexual assault survivors so we're part of that process from when they first report to all the way through the case disposition." Stogner says SAFE works with law enforcement and prosecution to make sure their system is victim centered, efficient, clear and understandable for survivors, and she understands why hearing this information released by DPS and APD can be distressing.
"Fear of not being believed, retaliation, traumatization when you talk about the assault so there's many different ways a survivor may choose to deal with assault,” she says.
She says only 9 percent of survivors choose to report sexual assault so for the ones that do, she'd like to see them get the justice they seek. "Being assaulted is a horribly traumatic event. And for those that want to seek justice for the criminal justice system it's their hope and intention that each case be handled correctly. And treat it with priority and importance. We were concerned there were errors in the reporting and we wanted to get a better understanding and what's being done to fix that. and we think it's crucial to have good community data."
Stogner says in recent years there's been a lot of attention on DNA kits or other pieces of information, and they're encouraged to know a-p-d is looking at things more holistically, from start to finish.
SAFE alliance has several resources, and if you're a survivor of sexual assault they say you can contact them at any time. This includes an anonymous 24-hour hotline.
| 24-hr SAFEline - Call: 512.267.SAFE (7233) | Text: 737.888.SAFE (7233) | Chat: safeaustin.org/chat
| For Deaf people of all identities, please use relay/VRS