The Laurens County Sheriff's Office said Saturday that Laurens County Hospital refused to give a sexual assault exam to a woman who reported a rape on Thursday. The Sheriff's Office called the situation "unacceptable" in a news release on Saturday afternoon.
The woman reported the sexual assault inside her residence Thursday and the hospital did not have a sexual assault nurse examiner on duty to perform the examination and collect the evidence, the Sheriff's Office said. In many instances, the best practice is to have a sexual assault nurse examiner perform the task, the Sheriff's Office said. However, when a sexual assault nurse examiner is not available, a nurse or doctor can perform the procedure.
In this case, the hospital recommended the victim go to Greer for the examination, the Sheriff's Office said.
"It is unacceptable for Laurens County Hospital to not perform this examination and collection of evidence," Capt. Robert Wilkie said in a news release Saturday. "Furthermore, it is unbelievable that a victim of such a horrendous crime would have to travel to another county for the collection of evidence. This jeopardizes the investigation and puts the victim and others at further risk of harm.
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"Fortunately, in this situation, there was enough evidence to move forward and arrest the individual responsible for assaulting the victim."
Laurens County Hospital is a part of the Greenville Health System. Sheriff Don Reynolds attempted to contact GHS officials for an explanation and to seek a solution but has not yet been able to reach anyone, the Sheriff's Office said in a news release Saturday afternoon.
Greenville Health System said it could not comment on the specific case "due to patient privacy."
"It is general practice at all GHS facilities to have a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) provide the exam because these nurses have special training and often provide expert testimony if a case goes to trial," GHS spokesperson Dudley Brown said in a statement. "If a SANE nurse is not present, we offer patients the opportunity to be immediately transported to a facility where a SANE nurse is available. If a patient does not want to be transported, a doctor can perform the exam. However, patient consent must be given for the exam to be performed."
The suspect in the sexual assault case is accused of forcefully entering the residence, cutting the victim with a "sharp instrument," holding her against her will and sexually assaulting her. He is being held at the Johnson Detention Center.
An investigator talked with hospital personnel and explained the concerns with asking an "extremely traumatized victim to travel to another county for this procedure," the Sheriff's Office said.
"Due to the overwhelming trauma, the victim declined to go to Greer," the Sheriff's Office said.