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Attorney General awards $1.2 million in grants for campus sexual assault victims

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Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine awarded over $1.2 million in grants to campus sexual assault and rape crisis centers across the state in late December.

After the attorney general’s office reviewed applications, the first round of grants was announced. According to Dan Tierney, a spokesperson for the Ohio Attorney General’s office, more awards could be announced either in a second round of grants or sporadically as grant applications are approved.

According to a press release, the money is a provision of the Victims of Crime Act and will be taken out of the $3 million of federal funding from VOCA set aside by DeWine in 2015. These specific VOCA grants are only intended for crime victim services, not preventative ones.

Although VOCA has been giving federal funding to crime victim services since 1985, Congress’ dramatic increase in the amount awarded to each state is the first time Ohio has given grants specifically to campus sexual assault victim services.

“Now that we’ve issued this grant funding, we want it to be put to good use on our college campuses. Obviously sexual assault on college campuses has been an issue of great public interest in the past few years,” Tierney said. “The goal is that, if a crime occurs on a college campus, that victims would have the same level of service should the crime have occurred elsewhere in the community.”

According to a fact sheet from the U.S. Department of Justice, the money for the VOCA programs comes not from taxpayers, but from donors and those who have committed federal offenses. Money collected from criminal fines, forfeited bail bonds and penalty fees all goes into this fund, which is then distributed among states. VOCA money can then be put toward services like crisis intervention and counseling.

The money currently awarded in grants ranges from the $10,363 grant given to Compass Inc., a survivor advocacy program on the Tuscarawas County Regional Campus of Kent State University, to the $233,634 grant given to the Rape Crisis Center of Medina and Summit Counties on the University of Akron’s campus.

Ohio University did not receive one of the initial grants, but Tierney said the attorney general’s office is still in discussion with the university about possible funding.

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