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VAWA award keeps help flowing to victims

The Grant County District Attorney's office has received a major grant to help support its Victim Assistant Program.

Published on September 29, 2015 4:09PM

From left, victim intervention specialist Andrea Officer, Grant County Deputy District Attorney Matt Ipson and victim assistance program direcctor Ashley McClay.

The Eagle/Kristina Kreger

From left, victim intervention specialist Andrea Officer, Grant County Deputy District Attorney Matt Ipson and victim assistance program direcctor Ashley McClay.

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Grant County Deputy District Attorney Matt Ipson

Grant County Deputy District Attorney Matt Ipson

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Victim assistance program director Ashley McClay

Victim assistance program director Ashley McClay

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Victim intervention specialist Andrea Officer

Victim intervention specialist Andrea Officer

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The need

By the numbers

Here’s a count of incidents reported to the Grant County DA’s office in 2014 related to sexual assault and domestic violence.

• 13 sexual assaults reported

• 27 domestic violence incidents

• 10 reports of restraining order violations

• 5 stalking incidents

• 19 individuals assisted with restraining orders by Victim Assistance staff and Heart of Grant County


The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence puts domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking into perspective with these sobering statistics. In the United States:

• 1 in 5 women and 1 in 7 men have been victims of severe physical violence by an intimate partner in their lifetime.

• 1 in 15 children are exposed to intimate partner violence each year, and 90 percent of these children are eyewitnesses to this violence.

• 1 in 5 women and 1 in 71 men in the United States has been raped in their lifetime.

• 19.3 million women and 5.1 million men in the U.S. have been stalked in their lifetime.

Submitted by Ashley McClay, Grant County DA’s Victim Assistance Program

Blue Mountain Eagle

CANYON CITY – Local victims of sexual assault and domestic violence won’t have to face a daunting legal system alone, thanks to a major grant awarded to the Grant County District Attorney’s Office.

The DA’s Victim Assistant Program obtained the grant – $606,000 over three years – through the federal Violence Against Women Act’s rural program, known as VAWA Rural.

According to Ashley McClay, Victim Assistance Program director, the grant will keep several staff members, including the full-time deputy district attorney, on the job. It also funds services and education related to domestic violence and sexual assault.

The county’s previous federal grant was expiring, so the office had to reapply.

McClay noted that while her office has had success with such applications in the past, “continuation is not guaranteed.”

She said the VAWA Rural process is highly competitive. In 2014, 34 programs nationwide – including just four in Oregon – received the grants.

The county’s new grant will take effect Oct. 1 and continues to Sept. 30, 2018.

“This grant is crucial to providing services to victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence and stalking,” McClay said.

In addition to funding the full-time deputy DA position held by Matt Ipson, the grant will pay for the following positions and services, all focused on domestic violence and sexual assault issues:

• A full-time victim intervention specialist job, held by Andrea Officer, in the DA’s office.

• A .75 FTE equivalent job for an advocate, Shelly Whale, at the nonprofit Heart of Grant County for confidential services to victims.

• A .25-FTE job for law enforcement investigator under contract with the John Day Police Department. Officer Mike Durr holds that post in addition to his other police duties. The grant covers pre-trial and other investigative work requested by the district attorney in such cases.

• Community awareness campaigns.

• Attendance at national trainings for grant-funded staff and community partners to gain knowledge and provide more effective services.

• Technical assistance, through local trainings, to members of the area Sexual Assault Response Team.

• Certain emergency funds to help victims in crisis situations with temporary lodging and basic needs.

McClay said the technical assistance to the Sexual Assault Response Team and the pre-trial police work are new components under this grant that will strengthen the services offered locally.

District Attorney Jim Carpenter hailed the grant news, saying the Victim Assistance Program and deputy DA post are “essential to effective prosecution” of cases in the county.

He credited McClay for her grant writing abilities and work by Ipson in securing the funding.  He said while the grants are not a given, he had been optimistic McClay and Ipson would succeed this year.

“Their skills and commitment to these programs have made our victim’s advocacy program among the best in the state,” he said. “It has been comforting to know that when grant funds are needed these two are on the job.”

For more information on victim assistance, contact the District Attorney’s Office at 541-575-4026.


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