WeHo City Will Get Update on Sexual Assault Reporting and Response Procedures

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Get Consent - Photo by Paulo Murillo for WEHO TIMES

The West Hollywood City Council will receive an update on sexual assault reporting and procedures at the next regular city council meeting on Tuesday, January 18, 2022.

At the December 6, 2021 City Council meeting, Staff were directed to return with information regarding sexual assault procedures from the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station, Los Angeles County Fire Department, and Cedars Sinai Medical Center.

West Hollywood Mayor Pro-Tempore Sepi Shyne questioned protocols and procedures in relation to an alleged drugging and rape incident last month. She particularly questioned how the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station handles sexual assault after a male victim said he was drugged and potentially raped after attending WeHo’s nightlife establishments.

According to the victim’s account, Cedars Sanai does not conduct rape kits and a deputy at the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station suggested he had too much to drink, could have a drinking problem, and he was discouraged from filing a police a report.

Staff will discuss a chart of West Hollywood Station Incidents where victims believed their drink was spiked. The data contained within this chart was originally provided by the West Hollywood Station of the Los Angeles County Sheriff’s Department and was an attachment to a City Council Memorandum on September 16, 2021. At that time, the data did not include a Result column with context about the disposition of each incident. Disposition status was subsequently added, and a revised chart was completed in December 2021, which provides additional information. In sum, results indicate that three (3) cases were filed with the District Attorney’s Office and one case is active.
Los Angeles County Fire Department

City Staff report breaks down the following:

Law Enforcement
Sexual Assault Reporting Process
Initial Contact with the Sheriff’s Department:

  • A victim can come to West Hollywood Station to report a sexual assault or call the Station and have a Deputy respond to their home or location in West Hollywood.
  • If a victim is transported to the hospital first, the victim can request a Deputy to respond to the hospital, or if the victim tells hospital personnel that they have been sexually assaulted, hospital personnel will contact the Sheriff’s Department (or proper law enforcement agency).

Reporting Process:

  • If the victim is a female, the Sheriff’s Department will ask the victim if they feel more comfortable speaking to a female Deputy (if so, a female Deputy will respond).
  • The Deputy will ask the victim to tell them what happened so they can complete a criminal report.
  • The Deputy will take the victim to the Santa Monica Rape Treatment Center for a forensic medical exam and collection of evidence for the “Rape Kit.” The Rape Treatment Center may also collect some, or all, of the victim’s clothing.
  • The evidence or “Rape Kit” will be booked into evidence pending analysis by the Sheriff’s Crime Lab.
  • The Deputy will provide the victim with information regarding resources and assistance for victims/survivors of sexual assault.
  • If a suspect is identified, they may be arrested.
  • The criminal investigation will be assigned to the Sheriff’s Special Victims Bureau.

Investigation:

  • A Detective from Special Victims Bureau will reach out to the victim to conduct a follow up investigation and offer any help or assistance the victim needs.
  • Based on the evidence and identification of a suspect, the Detective will file the case with the District Attorney’s Office.
  • If the District Attorney files the case, the suspect will be arrested, if they have not already been arrested.

Court Process:

  • If the case is filed with the District Attorney, the Special Victims Bureau Detective will accompany the victim through the court process. The Sheriff’s Department always encourages people to report sexual assault. If people have any concerns regarding reporting, Sheriff’s personnel will work with them to create an environment or circumstance with which they will feel comfortable.

The West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station has an Entertainment Policing Team (EPT) that is responsible for safety and security of West Hollywood nightlife. One of the objectives the EPT Team focuses on is sexual assault or drugging prevention. The members of the EPT Team communicate with management and security of West Hollywood nightlife establishments about nightlife safety issues surrounding sexual assault or drugging.

Prevention and identification of these situations are discussed, and nightlife establishments are encouraged to report any suspicious activity to the West Hollywood Sheriff’s Station.

According to the Los Angeles County Fire Department’s Medical Director, all paramedics are mandated reporters if they suspect any type of assault or abuse while responding to an EMS call. If the paramedics on scene find any evidence of an assault; or if the patient (or anyone) mentions anything about an assault – the paramedics would immediately notify law enforcement. Then the patient would be transported to the nearest hospital, and this information would be communicated to the receiving hospital staff. Westmed/McCormick is the provider assigned by the County of Los Angeles EMS Agency to provide ambulance transport for the City of West Hollywood. While Los Angeles County Fire Department paramedics take the lead on patient care, Westmed/McCormick paramedics and/or EMTs work in partnership with Los Angeles County Fire personnel.
Cedars Sinai Medical Center

The City Manager and staff met with personnel from Cedars Sinai Medical Center to discuss care for patients who are victims of sexual assaults. According to the Co-Chair of the Department of Emergency Medicine, the immediate role of the medical staff in the emergency room is to care for medical needs and to preserve forensic information. If a patient, or first responder transporting the patient, reports an assault, medical personnel first check for emergency medical conditions. Medical personnel also notify the law enforcement agency in the jurisdiction where the assault occurred. If there are no emergency medical needs, the patient is discharged and transported by law enforcement to the Santa Monica Rape Treatment Center which has the expertise to perform an appropriate forensic exam and manage both the immediate and long-term care (medical and psychological) needed by the patient. The patient can also choose to drive or provide their own transportation. Severe injuries are rare thankfully, but can lead to the hospitalization of the patient, including in the Intensive Care Unit. In this situation, the on call Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) responds to do an evaluation and rape kit in the hospital. It should be noted that most drugs cannot be tested for easily, including GHB.

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