Victim assistance program in Forest City

FOREST CITY, Iowa – Victims of crime will now be able to receive support at the Winnebago County courthouse thanks to a new program.

The Winnebago County Attorney’s Office has added a victim witness coordinator position to help victims of burglary, sexual assault, domestic violence and other crimes.

Rachel Olson took on the role in July.

“The police department works with the county attorney and that’s how we get the victims’ names and that sort of thing and then I’m able to contact the victim and let them know that I am here if they have any questions,” says Olson.

Other local counties have also had the opportunity to take part in the program.

“When we applied for this grant, they had told us that they had money available, so I know Cerro Gordo County has I think now two in their office that handle crime victim correspondence,” says Adam Sauer, Winnebago County Attorney.

“So if they need mental health services, if they need to find a physician or maybe if they need to work with DHS, food pantries, crisis intervention is also a huge source,” says Olson.

And the help doesn’t stop there — Olson and other victim witness coordinators also assist when it comes to their case in court.

“If you don’t have a victim engaged in the process, you’re not probably going to have a very good case going forward. We want victims to be involved, we want them to know that they have certain rights,” says Sauer.

Currently there are over 50 victim witness coordinators throughout the state of Iowa.

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