April 2, 2015 State Attorney Phil Archer Announces Office Receives “Stellar” Ranking For Sexual Assault Victim Services Unit


State Attorney Phil Archer Announces Office Receives

“Stellar” Ranking For Sexual Assault Victim Services Unit


            State Attorney Phil Archer announced Tuesday that the Sexual Assault Victim Services (SAVS) Unit housed in his offices in Brevard and Seminole counties was lauded as a “stellar” program when the division underwent its biennial review for recertification by the Florida Council Against Sexual Violence.


            The division manages the “first response” when a man, woman, or child becomes the victim of a sexual assault. For that purpose, they maintain and staff a “hotline” which is operated 24 hours a day, seven days a week for law enforcement and for rape victims. Additionally, victims of a sexual assault may access the services of the unit without the involvement of law enforcement through the Hotline and evidence will be preserved should a case eventually be opened. SAVS services are provided to anyone in need. The SAVS unit trains and coordinates a cadre of volunteers who respond to assist a victim during the initial stages of recovery.  


            Once a case is filed, the full-time staff advocates accompany the victim to court and related hearings, explaining the criminal justice processes to the victim and providing essential support and counseling during the process.


            Archer pointed out the absolute necessity of victim cooperation in violent crimes like rape which seldom has witnesses beyond the victim and the defendant. He said that the early and consistent support has enabled successful prosecutions and continues the office’s primary role of protecting the community. He also said the services would not be possible without the support of the domestic violence shelters and the health departments of both counties.


            The recertification evaluation included a day-long on-site visit by a team from New Orleans, La. In their final report, the team wrote: “ . . . finding a well-prepared, compassionate, and survivor/victim-centered organization that is exceeding standards and in many instances leading the way in empowering its population.” The monitors went on to call staff “superb.”


            “I am proud, not only for our entire office, but for the victims who most unfortunately will be the recipients of our services, but how reassuring it is to know we will be giving them the greatest amount of professional help possible. It is very, very gratifying, “ said Archer.


            The division, lead by Supervisor Teresa Andersen, has expanded in recent years to include a south Brevard County crisis exam site and services in Sanford, which joined the first clinic in Cocoa. Now most citizens can be examined in a more supportive atmosphere away from hospital emergency rooms.


The Hotline for Brevard is 321-784-HELP.

In Seminole, it is 407-321-RAPE

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