NO.coronerswearin.032624_1046.JPG

New St. Tammany Parish Coroner Christopher Tape speaks at a press conference on March 25 in Lacombe.?

I vehemently oppose the recent decision by St. Tammany Coroner Christopher Tape to eliminate the Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, or SANE, program. This misguided action not only disregards the safety and well-being of sexual assault survivors but also raises serious concerns about his fitness for the role.

In 2015, the Legislature worked alongside Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response, along with other stakeholders, to unanimously pass legislation to ensure sexual assault survivors have access to the expertise and support of SANEs.

The SANE program has been instrumental in providing survivors with the care and support they need while ensuring that justice is served. This program has been a critical lifeline for survivors of sexual assault, who have already endured unimaginable trauma.

The Department of Justice has long declared that research shows that programs with trained examiners, such as SANEs, significantly increase evidence collection and investigation in sexual assault cases.

The decision to discontinue the SANE program in St. Tammany Parish is not only shortsighted but also sends a chilling message to survivors that perpetuates a culture of silence and impunity surrounding sexual violence. It is a grave disservice to the thousands of survivors who will now be left without access to highly-trained forensic examiners.

Coroner Tape's role requires empathy, trust and an unwavering commitment to the welfare of all parish residents — qualities that this decision starkly contradicts.

We demand the immediate reinstatement of the SANE program and call for a reevaluation of leadership within the coroner's office.

As a community, we must stand united to support survivors and against any actions jeopardizing their rights and safety. It is our responsibility to ensure that elected officials like Dr. Tape prioritize the well-being and rights of survivors. If he insists on falling short, we must hold him accountable for his failures.

State SEN. PATRICK McMATH

Covington

Want to see your opinion published in The Advocate | Times-Picayune??Submit a letter to the editor.