BROWNSBURG — Central Indiana is failing when it comes to helping victims of sexual assault and domestic violence, according to advocates who say our communities need more resources to guide survivors through the process.
The town of Brownsburg is trying to fill that void.
The Brownsburg Police Department just hired Morgan Culley, a victim advocate and investigations assistant.
It’s a first of its kind role for Brownsburg and police agencies in Hendricks County.
Culley will act as a guide for victims of crimes, with an emphasis on sexual assault and domestic violence, and guide them through the criminal investigation and criminal justice process.
“Victims have a lot of questions and my role serves to be a guide for them, to provide resources and kind of serve as their voice,” Culley said. “The more you engage with a victim, the more you make them feel heard.”
The newly created role will free up detectives to focus more on solving crimes and bringing justice to victims.
“It's going to be a game changer for us," Brownsburg police Capt. Jennifer Barrett, investigations division commander, said. “This is pretty groundbreaking for us because we’ll be able to focus on the criminal investigation and there’s a lot of work to be done. We never want our victims to feel like they’re not being heard or we don’t have time for them.”
Hendricks County, and many counties, have victim advocates at the prosecutor’s office.
However, the victim doesn’t receive those advocacy services until criminal charges are filed, plus not every sexual assault or domestic violence incident results in criminal charges.
“We noticed in the interim there were some things we could be doing better,” Barrett said. “We’re happy to have Morgan. This is a big deal.”
The Indiana Coalition for Crime Victims Rights applauds Brownsburg’s efforts, and founder Lael Hill is working to get other police departments to do the same.
“I would love to see more services specifically addressing sexual violence in some of these donut counties like Hendricks and Putnam because people should really be served in their own community and their own town,” Hill said. “They shouldn't have to drive to Indianapolis for services. Marion County does a really good job, and they have a rape crisis center but Hendricks County needs to step up and have better services specifically for victims of sexual violence.”
The coalition is working to add more services to donut counties like SARTs (Sexual Assault Response Teams) as well as rape crisis centers.
“Hopefully in the future we will see more justice, more convictions and less crime,” Hill said. “It’s so important to have an advocate to make sure someone will treat them with dignity and respect which is their right.”
Morgan Culley started her new job on May 13.
"The goal is to make sure everyone is collaborating, and we can provide the best wrap around victim services possible," Culley said.
The agency says Culley’s role is at no additional cost to taxpayers due to restructuring of other positions.