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Sexual Assault Response Team

The Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) consists of specially trained professionals from multiple agencies who work together to provide a community coordinated response to reports of sexual assault. Members of SART represent the fields of law enforcement, health care, advocacy, and prosecution and are employed in the public and private sectors (university, city and county governments, medical clinics, and nonprofits).  SART strives to provide the first response to ensure a consistent, compassionate and professional initial contact for victims and improve the likelihood of successful prosecutions.  The program is based out of the Iowa State University Police Department in Ames, Iowa. 

The Story County SART mission is to serve sexual assault victims by coordinating an immediate, high quality, multi-disciplinary, victim-centered response which may include health care, law enforcement, advocacy, and judicial systems. 

SART Agencies include:

  • Iowa State University Police Department
  • Ames Police Department
  • Story County Sheriff’s Office
  • Nevada Police Department
  • Huxley Police Department
  • Story City Police Department
  • ACCESS (Assault Care Center Extending Shelter and Support)
  • Mary Greeley Medical Center
  • Thielen Student Health Center
  • Story County Medical Center
  • Story County Attorney’s Office

FOR IMMEDIATE ASSISTANCE, CONTACT ANY SART AGENCY.  Story County SART services are provided 24 hours per day, 365 days per year. 

What To Do 

If you have been sexually assaulted, you may find the following steps helpful:

  • First, remember that what happened to you is not your fault. You did not cause an assault, and you did not deserve it. You have a right to be believed and to receive appropriate medical, emotional, and legal support if you choose such options.
  • Story County SART services are available to all survivors of sexual assault ages 13 and older, even if the assault occurred several days, or even years, earlier.
  • Get to a safe place. 
  • Do not change anything at the location where the assault occurred.
  • Do not eat, drink, shower, douche, brush your teeth, go to the bathroom, or change your clothes. These activities could destroy physical evidence that may be helpful if you later decide to pursue legal action.
  • Consider contacting one of the individual SART agencies. These agencies can provide you with medical attention, emotional support, and law enforcement services and can help you explore your various options.
  • Even if you don’t want to file a police report, consider receiving medical attention. A SART nurse will provide options to prevent pregnancy or sexually transmitted infections, and collect valuable evidence that may be useful in the future, even if you are unsure about pursuing legal action now. Physical evidence can only be collected for up to 120 hours after an assault, but a survivor has ten years to decide if she/he wants to ask the Story County Attorney’s Office to pursue a criminal case (or ten years after one’s 18th birthday if the assault took place prior to the survivor turning 18).
  • The medical exam and follow up visits are free in Iowa, even if you do not report the assault to the police.

 How SART Works

The Story County Sexual Assault Response Team can be activated by contacting any SART agency.  Upon activiation, a three person team responds.  Responders include:

  • Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE):  This is an experienced Registered Nurse (RN) who has received extensive training specific to collecting and documenting evidence in sexual assault cases.  Other options available include treatment for sexually transmitted infections and pregnancy.
     
  • Sexual Assault Advocate:  Advocates are confidential service providers who offer emotional support, victim rights information, additional community resources, and support when utilizing other systems. Sexual assault victims have the right to have an advocate present at all proceedings relating to the assault, including meetings with law enforcement, medical professionals, or the criminal justice system. 
     
  • Law Enforcement Officer:  can take a report of the assault and/or start an investigation, depending on the wishes of the victim.  Options include:
    • File written report only, no investigation
    • File written report, gather immediate evidence, no further investigation
    • File written report, gather evidence, conduct full investigation

The nurse, advocate, and law enforcement officer each explain their role on the team and what services they are able to provide.  It is up to the victim to decide which resources they want to use.  In a sexual assault, choice was taken away from the person who was sexually assaulted.  SART wants to give that choice back to that person and will respect all decisions that person makes.

Understandably, many sexual assault victims are not ready to make a decision about pursing criminal charges immediately after a sexual assault. In Iowa a survivor has ten years to ask the County Attorney’s Office to pursue a criminal case (or ten years after one’s 18th birthday if the assault took place prior to the survivor turning 18). Physical evidence, however, is lost quickly after a sexual assault and typically cannot be recovered. The choice can be made to have evidence collected and preserved immediately after an assault and decide later how to proceed.

Contact SART

For more information about Story County SART, please contact:

Mary Sirna
Phone: 515-294-0544
msirna@iastate.edu

Getting Involved

If you wish to support the work of Story County SART, consider volunteering or making a donation to one of our SART agencies.