Hancock County has new team to investigate sexual assaults

GREENFIELD, Ind. – Leaders in Hancock County announced a new team this week with the goal of assisting sexual assault victims and getting more convictions.

The group is called the Sexual Assault Response Team and is composed of every law enforcement agency in the county, employees of Hancock Regional Hospital, the Hancock County Prosecutor’s Office and Alternative Inc., an Anderson-based advocate center.

“These kinds of cases are really difficult. They are really challenging. There are a lot of things that make them difficult to prove,” Hancock county Prosecutor Brent Eaton said. “But by bringing everyone together and everyone working together, we wall want to do what we can to make sure these victims get justice.”

Prior to this year, Hancock County had not had a sexual assault conviction since 2006, Eaton said. The county also did not have a response team.

“Those two things sort of go together and so we wanted to do what we could to see that these kinds of crimes were properly enforced,” Eaton said.

Greenfield Police Department Detective Nichole Gilbert investigates most of the sexual assault cases in the city and was instrumental in writing the procedures and protocols for the team.

“We all want the same thing in the end,” Gilbert said. “We want to make it the best for our victims and the easiest process for them.”

Gilbert said a lot that’s in the plan are the same procedures she’s been following for years, but the protocols needed to be on paper for other agencies in the county and new officers.

“That was any new detectives, any new officers how come in know what’s expected in a sexual assault response,” she said. “We want to make sure we’re doing everything we possibly can to get a conviction.”

There are currently 15 open sexual assault cases in Hancock County, according to Eaton.