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Sara Hein, BSN, RN, FNE-A/P, pictured on the right, with GBMC's Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) team.

Finally Getting Justice: A SAFE Success Story

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Laura Zabriskie

February 13, 2018
When Taylor* arrived at GBMC's Emergency Department, she was in a state of shock. As she was leaving for work that morning, a man that she didn't know forced his way into her house and sexually assaulted her. After hearing her story, Taylor’s nurse immediately contacted the on-call Sexual Assault Forensic Examination (SAFE) nurse, Sara Hein.

Once Taylor had been medically cleared, Sara led her to a private room, separate from the busy Emergency Department, where she recounted the events of her morning. After her attacker assaulted her, he took pictures of her body, forced her to shower, and threatened to kill her.

The first thing that struck Sara was that the man had made Taylor shower, a surefire way to get rid of physical evidence. It made her think that this wasn't his first time assaulting a woman and she was worried that there wouldn't be any DNA evidence left to test. Despite her concerns, Sara kept her composure and completed her examination. She took Taylor’s clothing to send to the Baltimore County Crime Lab and provided her with a new outfit to go home in. Just four hours after the attack, Taylor walked with Sara back to the Emergency Department and into the arms of her family members who were there waiting for her.

Several months later, Sara was surprised to learn that she had been issued a court subpoena for Taylor’s case. She had thought that there wouldn't be any evidence left to test, so it was encouraging to know that there had been a DNA hit. As the court date drew nearer however, Sara got a call saying that additional information had been found and that the date had been pushed back to allow for further investigation.

Many postponements and almost two years later, the case finally went to court. The evidence she had collected from Taylor contained DNA that matched the suspect and also linked him to another assault from several years earlier. After three months in court, the man was given two life sentences without the chance of parole and an additional 10 years for breaking and entering.

Two and a half years after Taylor’s assault, justice was finally served to her attacker. Sara marveled at Taylor’s persistence and courage throughout the many postponements and the trial itself. Because Taylor refused to back down, a serial rapist was taken off the streets and will never again be able to prey on women in the community.

*Patient name has been changed
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