Group fighting sexual violence closes over taxes

(WISH Photo, file)
(WISH Photo, file)

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) — An Indiana group that works to prevent sexual violence has closed indefinitely for failing to pay payroll and other taxes, raising alarm that victims will fall through the cracks.

The Indianapolis Star reported Monday that the Indiana Coalition Against Sexual Assault suspended its operations June 27. An announcement on the organization’s website says contracts and grants can’t be distributed until the taxes are paid.

The coalition provides sexual assault victims with guidance and helps connect them with counseling services. It also trains domestic violence shelters about what to discuss with sexual assault victims and the evidence needed for rape kits.

It is the only Indiana organization focused solely on victims of sexual assault.

The closure has rattled victims’ advocates, who note that a Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study found Indiana has the second-highest rate of teenage sexual assault in the U.S. They said programs geared toward domestic violence don’t always offer the services that sexual assault victims need.

“With INCASA no longer being in operation, there’s not an organization in Indiana that has sexual assault as it’s only focus and mission,” said Michael Hurst, executive director of Legacy House, an Indianapolis shelter for domestic violence victims. “That is crazy.”

The coalition has been in operation for nearly 30 years and is overseen by a board of directors and a chief executive officer. CEO Anita Carpenter departed in April, after which the board discovered unpaid taxes dating from 2012.

Carpenter did not respond to requests for comment. Board members also declined comment.

Former coalition official Kristen Pulice said she is trying to raise donations so the organization can re-open under new leadership.

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