WICOMICO CO., Md. - Trying and convicting a sexual assault suspect, another step in the healing process for the hundreds of victims each year in Wicomico County.
But the task is a long and tough one for investigators.
"It's very important that we don't cause further harm during the road to justice," state's attorney Matt Maciarello said.
In the county, four major sources work cohesively with each case: Life Crisis Center, Peninsula Regional Medical Center, Maciarello's office and agencies like the Wicomico Bureau of Investigation.
"It's a very personal crime, obviously, that gets a very immediate attention when they occur," said Sgt. David Owens of WBI.
Each case and each story very different, but Sergeant David Owens says if a call is made investigators will head out to the crime scene. The victim, he says, then taken to the hospital, where forensic nurses first treat then search for answers and evidence.
"We're giving them so much information in such a small amount of time," said Eunice Esposito, a forensic nurse examiner at PRMC.
Back at the scene, DNA is collected, later compared with samples taken at the hospital. Then, hours of interviews from police and the state's attorney's office.
"I made it a point to have every single employee in our office trained to work with victims of sexual assault and rape so that they can understand the victimology," said Maciarello.
But, that's if the crime is reported and as seen in the past year, out of 366 survivors speaking to therapists at Life Crisis, WBI has seen only 46 cases, with 18 arrests.
According to a 2005 report conducted by the National Institute of Justice, most self-protective actions significantly reduce the risk that a rape will occur. Any type of action reduces the risk by more than 80 percent compared to nonresistance, says NIJ.
The full report can be found here.
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