Leading South Carolina victims’ rights organizations host rally for sexual assault survivor awareness at State House

May 9, 2022

#JusticeForChloe, #JusticeForDallas, #JusticeForHer 

On Thursday, May 12th, the South Carolina Victim Assistance Network (SCVAN), the South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (SCCADVASA), community partners, and assault survivors and their families and friends will rally at the South Carolina State House to raise awareness about the barriers faced by sexual assault victims throughout the state.

The 9:00am ET rally on the Main Street facing side of the State House was prompted by the recent national attention to the Bowen Turner rape cases out of Orangeburg, where despite the fact Turner was credibly accused and charged with the rape of three teenage girls, he ended up only being placed under house arrest with a GPS monitor. After violating the terms of his house arrest over 50 times, he pleaded guilty to assault and battery and was ultimately sentenced to just 5 years of probation without having to register as a sex offender.

“South Carolina has some of the strongest rights in the country when it comes to victims’ rights. But laws don’t mean anything for crime victims unless they are asserted and enforced. It is critical that victims know they have significant rights, and victims know there are organizations like the South Carolina Victim Assistance Network to believe, support, and represent them. We encourage survivors, their family members, victim service providers, and other interested community members to join us,” said Sarah Ford, the Legal Director of SCVAN.

The rally will begin at 9am ET and will include speakers from the entirety of the sexual assault experience in South Carolina. Additionally, survivors and advocates will be invited to lobby members of the South Carolina General Assembly to focus attention and motivate action in regards to how these crimes are handled by the criminal justice system, calling for a more trauma-informed and victim-centered approach. We must be united in action if we are ever going to change South Carolina’s legacy as one of the most dangerous states for women.

“The Bowen Turner case demonstrates, yet again, how the criminal legal system can fail victims and survivors of sexual assault,” said Sara Barber, executive director of SCCADVASA. “It also highlights the importance that individuals who handle these cases receive adequate training. We stand with SCVAN, victim service providers, and allies across South Carolina in effecting real, tangible changes to ensure victims are able to heal and seek justice on their own terms. We also encourage continued investment of time and resources in alternative options for victims, including restorative justice.”

Please visit www.scvanlegal.org for additional information and follow @SCVANLegal on social media to learn about this and other upcoming events. Additionally, learn more about SCCADVASA, its member programs, and how to get involved by following @sccadvasa on social media or by visiting www.sccadvasa.org.

The South Carolina Victim Assistance Network (SCVAN) serves as a voice for all victims of crime and those who serve them. It was created in 1985 in response to a mandate in the S.C. Crime Victims Bill of Rights for a network of service providers to be formed to better protect and serve victims of crime. For thirty years, SCVAN has been the “go to” agency as the voice of victims of crime and a resource for the providers who serve them. 

SCVAN is comprised of five programs: Financial Relief for Victims Program provides direct emergency and transitional housing assistance and information to victims; The Crime Victim Information Services System (CVISS) provides a research, resource and referrals to crime victims and service providers state-wide; Legal Services Program provides holistic legal assistance to crime victims; Faith-based Victim Service Program to develop resources that will assist crime victims and their families in South Carolina in partnership with faith communities, and the Statewide Forensic Nurse Examiner (FNE) Program provides coordination and support to existing and developing FNE programs in our state; building alliances with service providers to promote victim-oriented medical response and treatment of sexual assault victims. SCVAN also sponsors South Carolina’s annual Victims’ Rights Week Conference. 

The South Carolina Coalition Against Domestic Violence and Sexual Assault (SCCADVASA) serves as the collective voice promoting the prevention of domestic violence and sexual assault in South Carolina. Its vision is a South Carolina free from domestic violence and sexual assault. The statewide coalition is made up of the 22 sexual assault and domestic violence direct service and advocacy programs in South Carolina and other allied organizations. Established in 1981, SCCADVASA is a leader in representing the critical needs of survivors of domestic violence and sexual assault and is a pivotal voice in violence prevention.