Sacramento-Area Programs for Sex-Assault Victims Criticized

Laurel Rosenhall
Thursday, Nov. 25, 2010

Two Sacramento-area recipients of federal stimulus funds for programs to support victims of sexual violence have spent some of the money inappropriately or have not completed the work as proposed, according to an audit released Wednesday.

Inspector General Laura Chick, who is charged with auditing federal stimulus funds in California, reviewed expenditures by the Yolo County Probation Department and the California Coalition Against Sexual Assault, a Sacramento nonprofit that helps rape crisis service providers around the state.

The organization, known as CalCASA, “woefully failed to achieve the promised results,” Chick said. “And nearly half of the money they spent was not used properly.”

CalCASA received $300,000 from the American Recovery and Reinvestment Act but did not complete three of the four objectives the stimulus grant paid for, the audit found, including several trainings and publications. The audit says the group spent more than $48,000 on things not permitted by the grant – including a $2,000 camera and a consultant who was paid $9,500 through a noncompetitive bidding process.

Sandra Henriquez, executive director of CalCASA, said her organization will complete all the work described in its grant and “has instituted a series of internal improvements, protocols, and personnel changes in response to the Inspector General’s findings.”

The Yolo County Probation Department received $259,075 in federal stimulus funds, in part to pay for increased efforts to communicate with victims of sexual assault after their attackers are placed on probation. Chick’s audit criticized the agency for contacting 81 victims when its grant said it would contact 300.

Marjorie Rist, Yolo County’s chief probation officer, said the stimulus grant marked the first time her department tried to connect crime victims with recovery resources. Because the program was new, she said, the agency didn’t have a good sense of how many people it could reach when it wrote the grant.

“We don’t dispute that we missed the mark,” Rist said.