Center Closure Not Expected to Halt Aid to Rape Victims

SPECIAL TO THE TIMES

Even if an Orange County rape crisis center is forced to shut down in a month, victims of sex crimes will still have a local organization to turn to for support and counseling, officials with the Community Services Program said Friday.

The Community Services Program, based in Irvine, runs a 24-hour rape hot line, and it expects to pick up many of the 300 to 500 calls per month now received by the Orange County Sexual Assault Network, program representatives said.

The assault network may close July 1 because of a lack of funds.

After The Times reported that the assault network needed $60,000 to operate its around-the-clock help line for the next year, officials with the other counseling service said they stand ready to fill any void.

"I just don't want (victims) to think that there is nowhere in Orange County to turn," said Barbara West, Community Services Program assistant director.

Community services runs several victim-assistance programs, among them one called the Sexual Assault Victims Services/Prevention Program.

"CSP is prepared to expand volunteer hours, or (the number of) volunteers, to handle additional phone calls," said Barbara Morrison, director of the program. West said the group has 63 volunteers who are state-certified in rape counseling. She said there are volunteers on call at all times to respond to sex crime victims.

In addition to operating the crisis hot line, the Community Services Program also has offices in each county courthouse in the county to help victims and witnesses understand the legal process.

The Sexual Assault Victims Services/Prevention Program is funded in part by a $95,000 grant from State Office of Criminal Justice Planning.

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