Harris County to establish state-mandated sexual abuse response team

State law now requires each county to establish an adult sexual assault response team. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)
State law now requires each county to establish an adult sexual assault response team. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

State law now requires each county to establish an adult sexual assault response team. (Courtesy Adobe Stock)

Following the passage of Senate Bill 476 this year, state law now requires all counties to form an adult sexual abuse response team by December. The team is to meet quarterly and develop a written response protocol for adult survivors, according to the legislation.

Harris County commissioners unanimously approved the creation of the team on Oct. 12. Precinct 2 Commissioner Adrian Garcia said this move formalized measures the county has already taken. Stakeholders, such as prosecutors, the sheriff’s department, health care experts and behavioral health services, among others, will be involved in the team.


Sonia Corrales, chief program officer at the Houston Area Women’s Center, said a multidisciplinary team consisting of the Harris County District Attorney’s Office, the Houston Police Department, rape crisis centers and sexual assault nurse examiners has been meeting since 2014.

The Houston Area Women’s Center offers support to domestic and sexual violence survivors whether they report to law enforcement or not.

“Less than 10% of victims in Texas report sexual assault to police,” said Emilee Whitehurst, president and CEO of the Houston Area Women’s Center. “And we know that the initial reaction and response by professionals has a huge impact on victim’s healing and future engagement with criminal justice and social service agencies.”
By Danica Lloyd

Editor, Cy-Fair

Danica joined Community Impact Newspaper as a reporter in 2016. As editor, she continues to cover local government, education, health care, real estate, development, business and transportation in Cy-Fair. Her experience prior to CI includes studying at the Washington Journalism Center and interning at a startup incubator in D.C., serving as editor-in-chief of Union University's student magazine and online newspaper, reporting for The Jackson Sun and freelancing for other publications in Arkansas and Tennessee.