Anyone with information about a possible space for the Sexual Abuse Response Team to use can call Pat Tessmer, Advocates-Crisis Support Services executive director, at 824-9709, or Cmdr. Bill Leonard, with the Craig Police Department, at 826-2360.
A person is sexually assaulted at 2 a.m.
He or she calls the Craig Police Department, and a patrol officer asks the person if he or she wants to cooperate with an investigation.
The person doesn't want to relive the abuse.
The person doesn't want to tell a series of strangers about what happened, over and over again, day after day.
The person is afraid of what will happen next if he or she says, "Yes," to the patrol officer.
The Moffat County Sexual Assault Response Team does not want victims of sexual assault to be afraid.
The group consists of specially trained police department officers, Advocates-Crisis Support Services staff, Moffat County Department of Social Services officials, medical professionals and the 14th Judicial District Attorney's Office.
It approaches assaults as a team. By working together, it can avoid harassing a victim.
"Sexual assault is a very traumatic experience in and of itself," said Detective Jen Kenney, with the police department and the county Response Team. "We try to limit the trauma the victim is exposed to. With a group approach, the victim only has to tell their story once. Asking them to say it to a bunch of different people a bunch of different times, that's just re-traumatizing the victim."
The Response Team only has gotten stronger since it formed in 1997, and it has strengthened the bond between agencies, said Detective Caroline Wade, police department domestic violence and sexual abuse officer and Response Team member.
But, although the team has progressed, its target has gotten worse.
Moffat County follows national trends in that the number of sexual assaults increases every year, said Detective Ken Johnson, police department officer and Response Team member.
Advocates records - which are kept on an April to March calendar to match grant application requirements - show there were 65 primary sexual assault victims from April 1, 2007 to March 31, 2008.
There have been 84 such victims since April 1, 2008, through today. With another month to go before the annual cycle is over, that number is sure to increase, Advocates Assistant Director Karen Aragon said.
Elizabeth Oldham, 14th Judicial District Attorney, said Moffat County has "by far" the most sexual assault cases in her jurisdiction, which includes Routt and Grand counties.
Those statistics don't represent the 77 secondary victims since April 2007, which include any family members, friends, neighbors or acquaintances that know about the abuse.
"An assault can affect everyone in that family, and even outside of that family, greatly," Detective Johnson said. "That's why we bring in Social Services and Advocates, and we're all involved in the same case, because there's a lot going on in these situations, even past what law enforcement does."
No one could say why the number of cases has increased, other than pointing to a multitude of possible factors: economic problems, more cases being reported or an increase in alcohol abuse.
At the same time assaults become more common, the team faces losing its most valuable asset other than the people involved, Johnson said.
The Response Team uses a space at The Memorial Hospital MRI Center for victim exams and interviews. The space is just about perfect, team members said, because there is little public traffic through the building and they have 24-hour access.
But, the Response Team must move out by May 1.
The hospital needs it to provide family doctors to the community, said Samantha Johnston, TMH service excellence officer. TMH officials offered space inside the hospital building, but that won't work for what the Response Team needs.
Tessmer said privacy for the victim is the most important concern, and the hospital too is crowded with potential on-lookers.
The ideal space would have two to three rooms, said Cmdr. Bill Leonard, with the Craig Police Department. A medical setting would be best, but TMH has offered to provide medical equipment, as well.
There would have to be 24-hour access, Tessmer said, and a private entrance would be preferable but not necessary.
The hospital provided its space for free, so there isn't any money in the budget for rent, but the Response Team can apply for grants to pay rent if a space became available, she added.
The team needs to move as soon as possible, members added. With Dr. Andy Hughes now practicing family medicine at the MRI Center, there already are limits on what hours the team can use the facility.
Any residents with information on where the Response Team can find a temporary or permanent home are encouraged to call either Tessmer at 824-9709 or Cmdr. Leonard at 826-2360.
"These cases aren't slowing down," Detective Kenney said. "We want to continue to give the community the best services possible."
Johnson added that exam and interview space are not for the Response Team.
"This is for the victim," he said. "Sometimes, a person doesn't want to go to the jail or a public place to be interviewed."
The team and its space are essential to the community, Johnson said. He cares too much about the victims to think otherwise.
"Everyone on this team volunteered to do this," he said. "It's not about the crime itself. It's about helping someone."
Which is why he said it's so important to have a safe place in time for the next 2 a.m. phone call.
Collin Smith can be reached at 875-1794 or email@example.com.