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.”