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Akron's Cold Case Sexual Assault Unit Receives Nearly $2 Million to Expand Efforts

A technician prepares to examine a sexual assault kit
A technician prepares to examine a sexual assault kit

Sexual assault cases that have gone unsolved in Akron will receive more attention thanks to a nearly $2 million grant.

The funding supports the Akron Sexual Assault Kit Initiative, a collaborative effort meant to provide the resources and training needed to better handle assault cases.

Summit County Prosecutor Sherri Bevan Walsh says the grant will allow her office to review cases and charge people more quickly.

“We are hopefully bringing justice to victims who never previously saw justice," she says. "We are going to see much better training of our law enforcement. There is a portion of the grant that is going toward training everyone in the Akron Police Department’s investigative subdivision.”

The initiative also includes the Victim Assistance Program of Summit County, the Rape Crisis Center of Medina and Summit Counties and the Summa Health Traumatic Stress Center.

Case Western Reserve University researchers will analyze offending patterns in the sexual assault cases.

Since it was formed in February, the initiative has processed 60 cases. Charges have been brought in five of those.

New funding for the initiative includes:

  • Summit County Prosecutor's Office: $645,109 for a full-time prosecutor and paralegal
  • Rape Crisis Center of Medina and Summit Counties: $535,262 for two full-time victim advocates and a victim therapist 
  • Victim Assistance Program of Summit County: $263,835 for two full-time advocates and partial funding for a supervisor
  • Akron Police Department: $73,953 for overtime for detectives

Funding for two new partners includes: 

  • Begun Center for Violence Prevention Research and Education at Case Western Reservce University: $425,000 to collect and analyze information on the sexual assaults
  • Summa Health Traumatic Stress Center: $20,000 to develop customized, trauma-informed training for the Akron Police Department's investigative subdivision

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Valerie Royzman joined WKSU in August 2019 as a news intern. She is a senior journalism major at Kent State University’s School of Journalism and Mass Communication. Valerie has spent the last few years in Northeast Ohio, but Toledo is home.