Victims told they must drive 25 miles to get rape kit following sexual assault

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HANCOCK COUNTY, Ind. (April 18, 2016) - Victims of sexual assault in Hancock County are forced to drive 25 miles in order to get a kit that would preserve evidence to be used in a rape investigation.

Hancock County is hardly alone though, this is actually relatively common for small counties around Indiana.

“That’s just another burden placed upon those victims and if we had the ability to do those things locally, it would certainly prevent there from being that potential deterrent if somebody wanted to pursue things,” said Hancock County Prosecutor Brent Eaton.

The lack of local rape kits is concerning to Eaton.

“If there was ever a single victim that did not wish to make that travel and then as a result of that their perpetrator was not held accountable, that’s something that we’d be upset about,” he said.

Hancock County Regional Hospital does not have a sexual assault examiner on its staff. All sexual assault victims in Hancock County are expected to drive to Marion or Madison Counties to receive a rape kit that would be used as evidence in the prosecution of their attacker.

“We don’t have the volume of these types of cases that larger communities like Madison County or Marion County do have and so perhaps that plays in to what they’re doing,” said Eaton.

Eaton said a February 2016 conviction was the first Hancock County rape conviction in nearly ten years. The frequency of sexual assault cases in the county of 70,000 people and the cost of having rape kits on site may be a factor in sending victims to special treatment centers elsewhere.

Of Indiana’s 92 counties, hospitals in 22 of them send sexual assault victims outside county lines to receive rape kits, sometimes forcing victims to drive more than an hour, by themselves, following an assault.

“We’re situated between two relatively large urban areas where they have those resources, not every community is that way,” said Eaton.

We requested a response from Hancock County Regional Hospital today as to why they do not have a sexual assault examining nurse on staff and they did not return our phone calls.