The Erie County Victim Assistance Program was established in 1991. The program is a special division of the County Prosecutor's Office. It is our primary goal to help victims of crime understand the criminal justice system and address any questions or concerns that may arise in the aftermath of a crime. The program enables victims to receive immediate services in the municipal, juvenile, and Common Pleas courts of Erie County, Ohio. Our mission is to provide comprehensive services to all felony and misdemeanor crime victims in Erie County, Ohio. The Victim Assistance Program is the only multifaceted victim service provider in the community. Prior to the Victim Assistance Program, victims of crimes were seldom informed of their rights or the status of criminal cases. Mechanisms are now firmly established to ensure victims are involved throughout the court process. Due to the diversity of victims, more time and expertise is required to provide prompt and competent services. The program assists over 2000 crime victims each year.
The program consists of five advocates; Common Pleas, Municipal, Juvenile, Dometic Violence and Sexual Assault/Child Abuse. All the advocates provide direct services to victims in Erie County. The advocates notify victims of case status, attend child abuse interviews at the local CAC, Michael's House, provide advocacy and support to victims in the hospital emergency room and Tri-County SANE Unit examinations, assists in filling out Ohio Victims of Crime Compensation Applications, obtaining protection orders, post-release issues, crisis intervention, safety planning, and referrals for community resources. This includes counseling, and general information and education about victimization issues. The Victim Assistance recruits volunteers to assist with clerical duties, fundraising, special projects, Victims' Rights Week activities, and the Rape Crisis component.
There is no charge for the services provided by the Victim Assistance Program. The program is funded through the Erie County Commissioners, and federal grants received by the Ohio Attorney General's Office - VOCA (Victims of Crime Act) funds and by the Office of Criminal Justice Services - VAWA (Violence Against Women Act) funds. The Victim Assistance Program is the County's only 24-hour rape crisis program. We provide hospital and police advocacy to persons who have been sexually assaulted and report to the hospital or police.
The Victim Assistance Program is housed in the County Prosecutor's Office, 247 Columbus Avenue, Suite 319, Sandusky, Ohio. Office hours are 8:00 a.m. - 4:00 p.m. Monday through Friday.
Victim Assistance Director, Sarah Reynolds, was hired in 2007 as the Domestic Violence Court Advocate. In 2008, Ms. Reynolds replaced former Director Jody Craig. She obtained a Bachelor Degree from Bowling Green State University and has performed diverse roles within the judicial system.
The Director provides comprehensive services to those victimized by crime in Erie County, at the Common Pleas Court level. She writes federal and state grants and also works with sexual assault victims of adult offenders, and families of homicide or vehicular fatality victims.
The Director assists persons who are in need of obtaining Domestic Violence, Menacing By Stalking, and Sexually Oriented Offense Civil Protection Orders. An appointment is scheduled to review the facts of the case, and either information is provided or the paperwork is completed to begin the process.