VERMILLION COUNTY, Ind. (WTWO/WAWV) — A grant from the Indiana Criminal Justice Institute will allow the Vermillion County Prosecutor’s Office to hire more employees that handle cases of sexual assault.
The prosecutor’s office will hire a part-time prosecutor that will focus solely on crimes regarding sexual assault. Kerri Burke, Victim Advocate for the prosecutor’s office, said the specificity of this role is vital to put an emphasis on these crimes.
“This job is 100% dedicated to sexual assault and domestic violence and now dating violence,” Burke said. “They’re able to follow the case from the very beginning to the very without as many distractions as the normal prosecutors.”
Research shows many cases of sexual assault go unreported. However, Burke said she believes that community outreach and teaching people to be more aware of these crimes could result in less cases of sexual assault.
“The more we can get out there to the community, the more we can target these crimes, the less that they will occur,” Burke explained. “We want people to be aware of the warning signs.”
The next step for Burke and the prosecutor’s office is to teach dating violence awareness in schools, as Burke said this is an age group that is most affected by dating violence.
“As they go through college and adult life, they can maybe recognize some warning signs and that this is not a safe relationship for myself,” Burke said.
The Council On Domestic Abuse in Terre Haute has a crisis hotline for anyone in domestic violence situations at (812) 232-1736.