Clayton County SART is a regional standard model

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Members of Clayton County SART are, front from left, Zach Herrmann, Jen Radl, Shelby Flinn, Casey Sass, Brandi Lewin; back row, Lacy Jorgenson, Brandon Taylor, Kari Hoyheim, and Brent Ostrander. (Photo submitted)

By Caroline Rosacker

Sexual violence is traumatic and can affect many aspects of a survivor's life. Concerns over safety, health, finances, family and work situations are all contributors to the after-effects of the assault. These challenges can lead to complicated personal and legal questions. Victims must navigate a maze of governmental and community agencies just to receive basic assistance after the violation. 

Clayton County's Sexual Assault Response Team (SART)  members, with its victim-centered approach, is available to assist survivors through this  process. 

The proficient members of the SART team — which includes numerous law enforcement officials, nurse examiners, Riverview Center's sexual assault advocates and attorneys — work together to provide compassionate assistance. Most cases are streamlined through Clayton County Sergeant Investigator Brent Ostrander, due to availability and his specialty, working sexual assault cases.  

Team members from several agencies serve on the Clayton County SART. Members include: Guttenberg Officer Kari Hoyheim; Guttenberg Municipal Hospital Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE-P) Jen Radl; Riverview Center's Sexual Assault Advocates, Shelby and Lacy; Riverview Center's Sexual Assault Bilingual Advocate, Lupita; Riverview Center's SART Coordinator Brandi; Elkader Police Chief Mitch Sietz; Strawberry Point Officer Brandon Taylor and Mercy One Elkader Hospital and Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) Casey Sass.

Investigator Ostrander shared this with The Press, "Victims of sexual abuse suffer severe physical and emotional trauma during and after an assault. Our response team members have had extensive education  and training  to respond compassionately to assault survivors of all ages." He went on to proudly say, "Clayton County SART has stepped up to the plate to meet the communities' needs in response, client assistance, collection of evidence, prosecution and abuse reporting of  sexual assaults. We have a conviction rate well above the national average." 

With their high conviction rate, the program has become a role  model for this region of the state. 

SART Coordinator Brandi Lewin shared this information with the Press. "We’ve been fortunate to have Investigator Ostrander from the Sheriff’s Office travel Northeast Iowa and train over 200 law enforcement on sexual assault investigations. This is a progressive movement in Northeast Iowa and statewide. This has enhanced the law enforcement response throughout the region and provided better outcomes for survivors experiencing the criminal justice system. 

"Our advocates and preventionist, Kristen from Riverview Center, and local law enforcement have also spent countless hours within the Central school district providing prevention work with children and school faculty.

"In conjunction with law enforcement, the Guttenberg hospital and Riverview Center  trained the Guttenberg Care Center staff on identifying elder abuse and how to properly proceed with a disclosure.

"Lastly, we’ve held a golf fund-raising event that will enable our team to better train our disciplines and provide assistance to survivors of abuse. We are fortunate to have a passionate group of individuals and agencies who work incredibly hard to keep our community aware of the dynamics of sexual violence and provide the best care possible." 

She went on to say, "Clayton County is excelling far beyond many SARTs in the state and has become a standard model to look at amongst all SARTs in our region. It’s something our community should be very proud of."

Iowa law has a statute of limitation up to 10 years after the sexual abuse took place to report to law enforcement. If the abuse happened before age 18, you have 10 years after you turn 18 to report. 

If you are or have been a victim of a sexual assault and would like to report a crime, please call the Clayton County Sheriff's Department at (563) 245-2422 or Riverview Center's 24-hour sexual assault hotline at 1-888-557-0310.  

You have the option to report or just speak to a trained advocate. The direction of your path of choice is up to you. 

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