Atlanta, GA — The Georgia Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC), in partnership with many state and local stakeholders, is pleased to announce the formation of the Metro Atlanta Cold Case Sexual Assault Task Force (Task Force). The Task Force is exclusively focused on leading the investigation and prosecution of cold case sexual assaults that result from testing previously unsubmitted or untested sexual assault kits. CJCC is collaborating with the following partner agencies on the Task Force: the Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia, the Atlanta Police Department, the Cobb County District Attorney’s Office, the DeKalb County District Attorney’s Office, and the Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) State Expert Committee.
Planning for the Task Force began last fall with CJCC’s receipt of a $3 million grant from the U.S. Department of Justice, Bureau of Justice Assistance (BJA) National Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (SAKI). Today, the Task Force has been fully operational for a little over two months and has already made several indictments. With over 2,300 previously unsubmitted or untested sexual assault kits tested, the Task Force is currently reviewing nearly 240 cases.
CJCC Executive Director, Jay Neal, said he is looking forward to the positive impact the Task Force will have on victim services and the speed with which these cases are investigated and prosecuted. “The Task Force allows us to enhance our comprehensive and coordinated efforts and by assisting jurisdictions with the prosecution of cold case sexual assaults, we are holding offenders accountable, and ultimately, making communities in Georgia safer.”
Prosecuting Attorneys’ Council of Georgia Executive Director, Pete Skandalakis added, “Together with our task force partners, we can make a coordinated effort to assist local prosecutor’s offices in their efforts to seek justice for the victims of sexual assault, which in turn makes our communities and State a safer place to live.”
The Task Force and its partner agencies’ goal is to assist victims with their case from the moment there is a Combined DNA Index System (CODIS) hit, through investigation and rapid prosecution. This assistance includes dedicated victim advocacy to ensure a trauma-informed system of care. CJCC is leveraging Victims of Crime Act (VOCA) funding to partner with liveSAFE Resources to provide this advocacy to all victims being served by the Task Force.
“We are thrilled to be a part of this Task Force. This is an important opportunity to collaboratively solve crimes, hold offenders accountable, and, more importantly, demonstrate our joint commitment to seeking justice for victims of sexual assault. For too long, justice for these victims has been delayed. We stand with our Task Force partners in working to make our communities safer and to bring some measure of closure to those impacted by these vicious crimes,” said DeKalb County District Attorney Sherry Boston.
“We are very honored to be a partner in the Metro Atlanta Cold Case Sexual Assault Task Force. We are looking forward to bringing some long-needed justice to these victims and holding the perpetrators responsible for their acts,” noted Cobb County District Attorney Vic Reynolds.
The Task Force is an important component of Georgia’s multifaceted initiative to best serve survivors of sexual assault through a coordinated and victim-centered response. In 2017, the Sexual Assault Kit Victim Notification Portal was created to assist survivors of sexual assault who believe their sexual assault kit may not have been previously tested. Survivors can visit notify.svrga.org to communicate their preferences regarding notification of reopened investigations and prosecutions. The Task Force will adhere to survivor preferences with any outreach following a CODIS hit.
“We’re grateful to the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council for bringing all of these resources together to pursue our collective, singular focus of seeking justice in these sexual assault cases,” said Atlanta Police Chief Erika Shields.
CJCC is pleased to have SAKI funding for the Metro Atlanta Cold Case Sexual Assault Task Force and looks forward to providing an update on their investigations and prosecutions soon.
About the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC)
Created by the Georgia General Assembly in 1981 as an Executive Branch agency, the Criminal Justice Coordinating Council (CJCC) represents the culmination of many efforts to establish a statewide body that would build consensus and unity among the State's diverse and interdependent, criminal justice system components. For more information visit the CJCC website: https://cjcc.georgia.gov/.
Samantha Wolf – Communications and External Affairs Director | Atlanta | 404/657-1958