Sunday, October 1, 2023

Nelson to file bill to strengthen sexual assault investigations

Senator Nelson confers with Lieutenant Governor Dan Patrick in the Senate.

State Senator Jane Nelson, R-Flower Mound, announced this week that she will introduce legislation creating a telemedicine program that will deliver high-quality medical forensic care to sexual assault survivors throughout Texas, according to a news release from her office.

“Every survivor of sexual assault deserves compassionate care and justice — regardless of where they live,” Nelson said. “This legislation will ensure that we are providing expert care and collecting forensic evidence in a manner that will stand up in court. Through telemedicine, we can bring this emergency care to survivors in every corner of the state.”

Sexual assault nurse examiners are trained to collect forensic evidence for use in a sexual assault prosecution, serve as expert witnesses and provide comprehensive medical care to sexual assault survivors, according to the news release. Research indicates that certified sexual assault nurse examiners improve the quality of sexual assault investigations, prosecutions and health outcomes for victims. However, 84 percent of Texas counties are not currently served by a nurse with sexual assault certifications, the news release said.

Nelson’s legislation will establish telemedicine hubs through which local medical providers may consult with a certified nurse during a sexual assault exam, the news release said. As a result, the program will dramatically expand the number of locations where survivors can obtain care and ensure evidence is collected in a manner that will stand up in court.

As chair of the Senate Finance Committee, Nelson included $4.2 million in the current state budget to address the backlog of sexual assault kits. She has committed to continuing that effort next session, according to the news release. The Legislature has passed into law 29 bills authored by Nelson to help victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

Mark Smith
Mark Smith
Mark Smith is the Digital Editor of The Cross Timbers Gazette.

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