Sexual assault victim allegedly turned away from La Grange hospital due to lack of specialized staff

Rape victim sent to UofL Hospital instead of being examined at local hospital

LA GRANGE, Ky. (WAVE) - A sexual assault victim was allegedly denied a forensic exam at Baptist Health La Grange.

The claims were uncovered by the Oldham Era newspaper during a court hearing for the rape suspect. In early May, Eric Johnson, 36, allegedly stabbed and sexually assaulted a woman in La Grange, according to court records.

When the victim went to her local hospital, they treated her wounds but sent her to Louisville to deal with the sexual assault. She ended up at UofL Hospital’s SANE (sexual assault nurse examiner) room.

Amanda Corzine leads the team of eighteen SANE certified nurses at UofL. They see over 800 sexual assault cases a year.

“The burden shouldn’t be on the victim to know what hospital to go to after they’ve been sexually assaulted,” said Corzine.

SANE certified nurses have over 100 additional hours of specialized training in evidence collection and victim care.

”Part of that is just knowing how to talk to a victim, how to not re-traumatize them during the exam and how to give them as much ownership and choice in the process as we can,” Corzine said.

While a SANE nurse may be able to provide better care, all hospitals are required by state law to offer forensic exams onsite.

Amy Turner is the Director of Sexual Assault Services for the Center for Women and Families."[When a patient is turned away] Usually what happens is we end up losing that person,” Turner said. “They end up not coming here, they might not end up coming to another hospital.”

Turner believes some of the medical professionals passing along the exams to SANE nurses feel like they cannot adequately do the exam.

"Because of it being evidence and it being part of a legal case, they want to make sure they get everything, some of them feel really uncomfortable doing it,” Turner said.

Turner and Corzine are among those working on a community SANE model for the six counties that surround Jefferson.

"We’re collecting all of the SANE nurses that are in this community and making it more of a phone tree of who can be available and who can be on call to go and answer those calls at other hospitals,” Turner said.

They're planning on having that in place by the beginning of 2020.

Baptist Health La Grange said they are working with the Center For Women and Families so they can be a part of that and provide SANE certified nurses in the future.

While a representative for Baptist La Grange said privacy laws prevent them from commenting on this case, Director of Emergency Services Ashley Parker sent WAVE 3 the following statement:

"Baptist Health La Grange has a process in place to examine and treat sexual assault victims in a confidential, sensitive and dignified manner. For confidentiality reasons, Baptist Health La Grange is unable to comment on any specific patient. However, Baptist Health La Grange provides an examination to all patients who present to its emergency department who seek treatment for an emergency medical condition.

Physicians providing services in the emergency department at Baptist Health La Grange perform sexual assault examinations for sexual assault victims. Additionally, Nursing staff in the emergency department at Baptist Health La Grange have been trained to assist in the collection of evidence of sexual assault using the Kentucky State Police assault evidence collection kit, although they are not SANE-certified."

Copyright 2019 WAVE 3 News. All rights reserved.