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Suffolk County’s fourth SANE center offers compassionate care, expertise in gathering evidence as part of forensic examination

STONY BROOK, NY, May 7, 2009–A SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) Center has been established at Stony Brook

A SANE (Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner) Center has been established at Stony Brook University Medical Center, announced President Shirley Strum Kenny. Standing from left to right are: Dominick Varrone, Chief of Detectives Suffolk County Police Department, Dari Schwartz, Bureau Chief, Child Abuse and Domestic Violence, Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office, Pamela Johnston, Executive Director, VIBS Family Violence and Rape Crisis Center, Dr. Richard N. Fine, Dean, School of Medicine, Stony Brook University, Alyson Ryan, Director of Community Education , VIBS Family Violence and Rape Crisis Center, Lee Ann Xippolitos, Chief Nursing Officer, Shirley Strum Kenny – President, Stony Brook University , Mark Henry, M.D. Chairman of the Department of Emergency Medicine, Peter Baigent, Vice President, Office of Student Affairs, Stony Brook University

University Medical Center, announced President Shirley Strum Kenny. The SANE Center at Stony Brook is a collaboration among VIBS Family Violence and Rape Crisis Center, Stony Brook University, Stony Brook University Medical Center the Suffolk County Police Department, and the Suffolk County District Attorney’s Office. It is the fourth SANE Center to be established with VIBS in Suffolk County since 1999, joining Good Samaritan Hospital, Mather Hospital, and Peconic Bay Medical Center.

The SANE Center staffs registered nurses who have advanced education and critical preparation in the forensic examination of sexual assault victims. In addition to helping preserve the victim’s dignity and reduce psychological trauma, the SANE Center provides more comprehensive evidence collection for more effective investigations and better prosecutions.

“The aftermath of such a traumatic event may haunt a victim for the rest of her life,” said President Shirley Strum Kenny. “While we can’t erase the horror, we can provide a safe environment where victims are treated with respect, dignity, and compassion. We can provide access to trained professionals educated in forensic examination. The SANE program is a major step in encouraging victims to come forward and report assaults; it enhances prosecution of assailants, and hopefully, victims will be reassured that because of the manner and professionalism with which evidence is collected, justice will prevail.”

VIBS, which provides individual and group counseling for rape, sexual assault and domestic violence, as well as legal advocacy, educational services and an offender’s program, is available 24/7 through an emergency hotline, according to Pamela Johnston, Exec. Director of VIBS Family Violence and Rape Crisis Center.

“It is a pleasure and honor to participate in this celebration of the opening of Stony Brook University’s SANE center,” said Johnston. “Establishing a SANE Center is a significant commitment for a hospital. It involves setting aside valuable space, medical direction, nursing care and direction, and cooperation with other systems, such as law enforcement and community based organizations, whose priorities and expertise may be different. It works because of the commitment to the survivors of these crimes.”

According to statistics cited in a 2005 National Institute of Justice Report, sexual assaults on college campuses are alarming:

  • 1 in 5 college women experiences rape during college.
  • Just under 3 percent of all college women become victims of rape in any given nine month academic year– which translates into 35 sexual violent crimes for every 1,000 women students.
  • Less than 5 percent of completed and attempted rapes of college students are brought to the attention of campus authorities and/or law enforcement which may also affect whether victims seek medical care and other professional help.


In 2008, a total of 241 patients received services from SANE in Suffolk County. Of the 241 survivors, 11 or .05% were male. The average age was 22; the youngest was 2 and the oldest was 87. One hundred and thirteen of the 241 (or fewer than 47%) were under the age of 17. Of the 241 sexual assault cases, 204 (85%) had police involvement. It is estimated that for every sexual assault that is reported, three are not.

 The SANE program has been operating in Suffolk County since 1999, administering services for over 1800 patients in that time period. The goal of the program is to provide sensitive treatment to a sexual assault victim as well as expert testimony in court if the survivor chooses to report the crime.

VIBS is a private, nonprofit community-based agency that exists to assist survivors of domestic violence, rape and sexual assault; to prevent the incidence of these crimes through education and services; and to raise community awareness of the need for justice and compassion for victims.

For more information about the SANE program in Suffolk County contact Alyson Ryan, LCSW, at VIBS at 360-3730 or go to the VIBS website at

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