Columbia, South Carolina


TO:                All Organizational Components

SUBJECT:   Criminal Sexual Assault

I. Purpose

The purpose of this directive is to establish a Policy and procedure to be followed in the event an apparent criminal sexual assault of a patient or client occurs in any facility of the Department of Mental Health.

II. Policy

It is the policy of the Department of Mental Health to provide a therapeutic treatment environment which promotes human dignity. A patient or client who is an apparent victim of criminal sexual assault is entitled to emergency care and treatment, and a full investigation of the incident.


III. Procedure

A. Mental Health Centers

Each mental health center shall develop a procedure to give their staff guidance in the event a client of the center is the apparent victim of a sexual assault. Such policy shall include the requirement that Center staff notify the Office of Public Safety as well as the local law enforcement agency with jurisdiction over the location where the alleged assault took place.

B. Inpatient Facilities

1.  Any employee who learns of an apparent sexual assault upon a patient, male or female, shall immediately notify the Nurse Manager and Public Safety. Failure to report such incidents or withholding information is a violation of this directive and may violate the Adult Protection Act. Notice requirements of the Adult Protection Act are posted in all patient wards and mental health centers.

2. The Nurse Manager and Public Safety shall make an immediate assessment of the situation and contact the designated physician in charge. The physician shall render necessary medical attention and assume responsibility for writing the necessary orders for the patient to be expeditiously transported for medical care and performance of the sexual assault protocol examination. The sexual assault protocol examination should be performed at the community hospital designated by James F. Byrnes Center for Geriatric Medicine, Education and Research. Patrick B. Harris Psychiatric Hospital patients will be transported to the Anderson Area Medical Center. An employee from the patient's facility shall accompany the patient to the hospital for the ensuing medical examination.

3. Public Safety shall investigate all incidents of alleged criminal sexual assault occurring on Departmental property. If Public Safety's investigation and/or the medical examination indicates it probable that a criminal sexual assault has taken place, the physician in charge shall notify the Director of the treatment facility or his or her designee, and Public Safety shall review the case with the appropriate Solicitor's Office.

4. Consensual sexual activity between patients sixteen years of age or older should not be considered criminal sexual assault for purposes of this directive. The responsible physician shall determine whether to send the patient for the sexual assault protocol examination after considering the circumstances of the incident.

IV. Employees

If an employee is sexually assaulted on Department property, he or she shall be transported to the Emergency Room at the nearest available hospital. The involved facility shall provide transportation unless the victim has sustained serious injuries that require transportation by ambulance. A complete investigation shall be conducted by the Office of Public Safety.

This directive supersedes and replaces South Carolina Department of Mental Health Directive No. 725-88.


                                                                                bevilacqua.GIF (8544 bytes)

August 19, 1994