Recent funding provided by the Ohio Department of Mental Health and Addiction Services, has allowed CRC’s research team to partner with the Cleveland Rape Crisis Center to develop and evaluate a comprehensive, evidence-based, LGBTQIA+ youth-focused human trafficking screener and toolkit for providers and advocates. It is estimated that nearly 40% of homeless youth identify as LGBTQ+, compared to 7% of the general population which is often attributed to a lack of family support, prior abuse or neglect, school bullying, and the marginalization of LGBTQ+ youth. Being without stable housing and social supports puts youth at higher risk of trafficking and exploitation. Traffickers exploit the vulnerabilities of homeless youth and compel them into sex or labor trafficking. This partnership will build the capacity of local service providers to better identify and connect youth to much-needed services.
The Bureau of Justice Assistance's Sexual Assault Kit Initiative will allow Criminology Research Center’s Dr. Rachel Lovell to partner with the Cuyahoga County Prosecutor’s Office’s Sexual Assault Kit Task Force on an action research project to evaluate the Task Force’s effort to leverage forensic data from sexual assault kits to help identify, investigate, and prosecute sexual offenders. The Cuyahoga County Sexual Assault Kit Task Force is a multidisciplinary group of prosecutors, investigators, victim advocates, forensic scientists, and other criminal justice partners dedicated to the testing, investigation, and prosecution of sexual assault cases arising from previously unsubmitted sexual assault kits (SAKs) in Cuyahoga County. Dr. Lovell’s research has the potential to inform and reform current policy and practice in the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault cases in Cuyahoga county.