Women’s Center raising funds to help child victims of assault
SOUTH LAKE TAHOE, Calif. – When a child under age 12 is sexually assaulted in South Lake Tahoe, they must travel more than three hours to Oakland in a police car to be examined by a trained sexual assault examiner.
“When a child is being abused, the perpetrator generally instills a lot of fear in various ways – fear that the perpetrator will go to jail, mommy is going to be mad and you’re going to be taken away and never see us again,” said Leanne Wagoner, executive director of the South Lake Tahoe Women’s Center.
“Then they disclose (the abuse) for whatever reason, and sometimes these things come true: Maybe mommy is upset and crying, maybe daddy or a boyfriend does go to jail,” Wagoner said. “This can be a very scary and intimidating experience. The exam is one more thing.”
With a goal of raising at least $6,000 to train a team of Barton Health nurses for the Sexual Assault Response Team, the Women’s Center is holding its second annual Bowl-A-Thon at 7 p.m. April 17 at the Tahoe Bowl.
The Sexual Assault Response Team, or SART, is comprised of city and county law enforcement, the Women’s Center as victim’s advocates and Barton Health for medical care.
Wagoner said the center would also like to raise an additional $12,000 for a colposcope, a lighted, magnifying camera that can take pictures of microscopic injuries to be used as evidence in court cases.
Any additional funds raised will go to items like clothing for victims to wear after their own clothes are taken for evidence.
“So they can leave in clean, fresh clothes,” Wagoner said.
About 50 sexual assaults are reported in South Lake Tahoe each year, Wagoner said. Last year, up to 25 disclosures were from children.
She said fewer than 25 received exams because the resources were not in place.
Previously, there was one nurse on staff at Barton Memorial Hospital who was trained as a child sexual assault examiner. About six years ago, the nurse moved away.
Since then, child sexual assault victims – classified as age 12 and under – have been transported to UC Davis Medical Center, a drive that takes two-and-a-half hours in good weather.
Earlier this year, the Women’s Center learned that Davis would no longer be providing the exams. Now, local children have to go to the children’s hospital in Oakland.
An alternative is Northern Nevada Medical Center in Sparks, a two-hour drive, but Wagoner said there are judiciary and evidentiary challenges with crossing state lines.
For adults, there are two Barton nurses trained for the exams. But they are not on call and one nurse works part-time.
The Bowl-A-Thon could raise enough funds to train two children’s nurses and two additional adult nurses, building a team of six medical personnel qualified to examine victims in South Lake Tahoe.
For information or to donate, visit http://www.sltwc.com. The deadline for forming a bowling team is Friday, April 9.
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