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Spike in sexual abuse cases sparks concern
Jonathan Murrell
Rincon Police Chief Jonathan Murrell speaks during the recent "Back the Badge Rally" at Freedom Park. - photo by Mark Lastinger/staff
We've noticed an awful upward trend in the cases that we've had in Effingham County.
Chief Jonathan Murrell, Rincon Police Department

RINCON — COVID-19 has several unpleasant symptoms and so do lockdowns used to control it.

Since the pandemic started last spring, sexual assaults and the resulting need for emergency housing have risen dramatically across the nation. Effingham County hasn’t been immune to the increase.

“We’ve noticed an awful upward trend in the cases that we’ve had in Effingham County,” Rincon Police Chief Jonathan Murrell said during the recent “Back the Badge Rally” at Freedom Park.

Murrell and other local law enforcement officers are proponents of Effingham County starting its own sexual assault and child advocacy center. It currently uses The Teal House in Statesboro and Savannah.

Murrell said, “We’ve had to reach out to Savannah and Statesboro, and it eats up a lot of time with our investigators running back and forth to these other cities just to a building to where they can conduct a forensic interview. We’re trying to get a Teal House satellite location here in the county.”

The Effingham County Sheriff’s Office has conducted 33 forensic interviews and seven forensic exams in 2020, exceeding last year’s totals by 12 and two, respectively. The Rincon and Springfield police departments have combined for nine forensic interviews this year, up from four in 2019.

Effingham Heroes is currently selling blue light bulbs as a way to show solidarity with law enforcement officers. Part of the proceeds will be used to fund a local Teal House. 

To learn more about Effingham Heroes, email, call Susie Davis at (912) 675-0283 or mail Effingham Heroes at P.O. Box 1622, Rincon, Ga. 31326.