Caddo Parish Coroner's Office

Sexual Assault

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The Office of the Coroner is responsible for all sexual assault exams under police investigation as mandated in Louisiana Revised Statute 13:5713(F) which provides: The coroner or his designee shall examine all alleged victims of a sexually-oriented criminal offense. At the present time, such sexual assault victims are examined by certified and competent Sexual Assault Forensic Examiners (SAFE), (also known as SANE – Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners).

What is a SAFE?


A Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner is a registered nurse or medical doctor who has been specifically trained to provide comprehensive care to patients of sexual violence.

The SAFE member is specifically trained to identify physical trauma, to document injuries, to collect evidence and maintain the chain of custody, and to provide necessary referrals. To become a SAFE member, the medical professional must successfully complete an intensive 40-hour training.

Additional hours of specific clinical experience is also required. Where they exist, SAFE programs have made a profound difference in the quality of care provided to sexual assault victims. SAFE members are specifically trained at enhancing evidence collection for more effective investigations and better prosecutions. This is true in both stranger and non-stranger sexual assault cases.

Statistics show one out of every three women will be the victim of some form of sexual assault in her lifetime.* Sadly, statistics also show that, of all the types of crimes, rape or sexual assault is the most underreported. Sexual violence knows no boundaries. It destroys innocent lives.

Every one is vulnerable to this horrendous crime, regardless of sex, age, race or social standing. Yet, because of the general response to this crime, almost 85%** of all victims never report the attack.

There are many reasons why: trauma, fear, guilt, shame, embarrassment, to name a few. There is also uncertainty as to where to go to report the attack; hospital, police, where? And then what happens?

Here’s what you need to know. If you become the victim of a sexual assault, go immediately to a hospital, if you can, or call the authorities/911 and they will take you there. Do not change clothes, take a shower or remove from your person anything you were wearing at the time of the attack.

The hospital will immediately activate the Sexual Assault Response Team and a member of the team will stay with you to coordinate and provide anything you might need. The role of the SAFE (Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner) is to provide a compassionate and competent forensic-medical exam, collect evidence and provide crisis intervention.

Studies have shown that communities with properly-trained forensic examiners and response coordination have better evidence collection, higher prosecution rates and safer communities.

We hope you will never be the “one in three.” But if you do become the victim of a sexual or violent assault, get help immediately. Keeping silent will not make the assault go away, and it will allow the attacker another chance to assault you or someone else. Do not allow the person(s) who hurt you to go unpunished.

SOURCE: * Bachar and Koss 2001 ** Kilpatrick, Edmunds and Seymour 1992

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