Genesee County authorities, victim advocates, nurses form Sexual Assault Response Team

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GENESEE COUNTY (WJRT) (7/10/2019) - One by one members of the newly formed Sexual Assault Response Team signed their name Wednesday, agreeing to uphold the new protocol to help men, women and children sexually abused in Genesee County.

The team consists of prosecutors, police officers, area victim advocates, nurses and other healthcare professionals.

"It starts with the very acute phase when the victim initially needs to be cared for medically and forensically and then it follows it all the way through to prosecution," SART Coordinator Tonya Tenbusch said.

She explained it's taken 12 years to develop the protocol and get everyone on board.

It's laid out step-by-step in a card, which each first responder in the county will always carry with them.

"You want the trained nurses to be able to interview them, you want the police who specialize in investigating sexual assault cases to be able to be there at the get-go. So we can get all the information when it's fresh," Genesee County Prosecutor David Leyton said.

When it comes to holding the perpetrator accountable, he announced Wednesday he's created a Special Victims Unit to practically hold the victim's hand through the court process.

It consists of three prosecutors, a supervisor, victim advocate and secretary. The Board of Commissioners approved the cost of $400,000 to make it possible.

"Victims of any crime, but specifically sexual assault, have been terribly traumatized. Then you ask them to come to court and get up on a witness stand and testify about this awful atrocity that they've suffered, well they need somebody to help them," Leyton added.