Use of blood alcohol tests discussed

By Stephanie Bradley

The question of whether blood alcohol content tests should be given to unconscious sexual assault victims was discussed at the final Sexual Assault Task Force meeting of the semester Monday.

Task Force Chairman Blanche McHugh said Sexual Assault Response Team members must agree on certain rules because each member of SART, which is composed of the University Police, the University Health Service and the NIU Counseling and Student Development Center, has its own protocol.

SART’s protocol discussion consisted of whether a BAC test should be given to assault victims who are brought in unconscious. The issue of police authorization for such a test also was discussed.

University Police Sergeant Kathy Guimond said the UPs can authorize a doctor to give the test. She said the police also can send the sample to the lab but cannot authorize the testing of the sample once it has arrived at the lab.

McHugh said it is questionable whether a BAC test would be useful for the victim’s court case. She said it could help if the victim was tested as being legally intoxicated because the victim might have been too drunk to give consent to the assailant.

McHugh said it also could work against the victim if the assailant claims the victim was too drunk to remember if she gave consent.

In other business, Beverly Beetham, health center nursing director was elected as next year’s task force chairman. She will take over the position McHugh currently holds.

Some committee changes also were made. The task force educational and training committees were combined into one committee as were the information and publicity committees.

The task force also plans to hang fliers which will inform students where they can get help if they are sexually assaulted in their home towns, McHugh said. Chicago and suburban-area hotlines and clinics will be listed, she said.

Proceeds for a sock hop at Douglas Hall will go to SART. The sock hop is scheduled for 9 p.m. to midnight on April 29 at the Chick Evans Field House. The task force will have a booth where students can pick up fliers and buttons.

Beetham said she would like to produce a video on sexual assault. She said a video made by Cornell University costs $200, but the script with the director’s notes can be obtained for only $6.

The task force also plans to take a tour at the Illinois State Crime Lab this summer, Guimond said.