For Immediate Release
Contact: Michelle Bays
775.321.4307 (o); 775.771.6049 (c)
Washoe County District Attorney Chris Hicks has announced the creation of a specialized position within the office to coordinate prosecution efforts related to sexual assaults and Nevada’s Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI). The program is aimed at improving the office’s response to these violent crimes through a comprehensive approach that strengthens community coordination and prosecution of cases involving sexual assault. A key focus of the WCDA’s Office SAKI program is in the identification of physical (DNA) evidence that can result in a successful prosecution, which in turn holds offenders accountable and can provide victims of sexual assault with resolution.
The position was made possible through a grant from the Nevada Attorney General’s Office, which was the result of Attorney General Adam Laxalt’s securing of federal Bureau of Justice Assistance funds directed at addressing a national backlog of untested and un-submitted sexual assault kits. The $360,000 grant will fund a full-time prosecutor position within the office for one year and includes funds for training, support and outreach efforts. There is also the possibility of additional grant funding to extend the program beyond 2019.
Deputy District Attorney (DDA) Darcy Cameron, who has been with the office for 8 years, will coordinate the SAKI grant and lead sexual assault prosecutions that result from the testing of Washoe County’s approximately *1,000 kits. In addition to working with our law enforcement partners and the Washoe County Crime Lab, DDA Cameron will work to improve our community’s response to sexual assault cases to better serve victims. According to State of Nevada reporting, Washoe County’s law enforcement agencies reported 203 sexual assaults in 2017 (http://rccd.nv.gov/About/UCR/Crime-In-Nevada/). Nationally, the crime remains one that is estimated to be significantly under-reported for a variety of reasons. The goal of the WCDA’s Office SAKI program is to seek justice for victims of prior cases where evidence can be found and to improve our response to victims of sexual assaults.
In commenting on the WCDA SAKI program, District Attorney Hicks said, “The securing of these funds will allow my office to focus on solving and prosecuting sexual assault cases with a priority on cold-cases. The prospect of providing overdue closure to sexual assault victims while improving our community’s safety from sexual predators is very exciting.”*The majority of Washoe County’s 1020 sexual assault kits submitted for testing thru the SAKI funding consisted of kits that were un-submitted by law enforcement for a variety of reasons and were not part of a backlog of kits. New legislation (AB No. 97, 2017