Prison Rape Elimination Act (PREA)
The Prison Rape Elimination Act of 2003 (Public Law No. 108-79) (PREA) is a federal law that prohibits sexual abuse and sexual harassment in correctional settings. The Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office is committed to providing a safe and healthy environment where inmates are free from sexual assault, sexual misconduct, staff sexual misconduct and sexual harassment. We makes every effort to detect, prevent, reduce and respond to all such allegations and incidents.
The Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office has a zero-tolerance policy for all forms of sexual abuse, staff sexual misconduct and sexual harassment and will aggressively pursue any complaint or suspicions of sexual misconduct – regardless of the source of the complaint or suspicion – up to and including prosecution under Virginia Code §18.2-64.2 (Carnal Knowledge of an Inmate, Parolee, Detainee or Pretrial or Post-trial Offender) and/or Virginia Code §18.2-67.4 (Sexual Battery).
Note: Sexual contact does not include touching of the intimate parts of another person during the performance of a personal search in accordance with Sheriff’s Office procedures or during a medical examination by health care staff for proper medical purposes.
The Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office policies regarding sexual abuse and sexual harassment apply to all persons granted access into the Virginia Beach Correctional Center with access to inmates, including employees, contractors and volunteers.
Reporting sexual abuse or sexual harassment
If you have information regarding an inmate who has been the victim of sexual abuse or sexual harassment while in Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office custody, please call 757-385-1971 or email SheriffPREAhotline@vbso.net.
Messages are checked each day, seven days a week. You do not have to give your name and you may remain anonymous, but it is critical that you provide as many details as possible, including:
- The name(s) and locations of person involved
- The names(s) or description of any witnesses to the incident
- Inmate number (you can look up an inmate’s Booking # here)
- A brief description of the incident(s)
- A brief description of where the event(s) occurred
- The date(s), time and place of occurrence(s)
- Names and contact information of others who may have additional information about the incident
- Your contact phone number and address (optional)
An investigation may result from the information that is given. If an inmate intentionally gives false information, they may receive a charge for false allegations.
Note: This number should be used to address issues related to sexual abuse or sexual harassment and not routine institutional operations.
Sexual abuse investigations
An administrative or criminal investigation is completed for all allegations of sexual abuse and sexual harassment. Allegations of sexual harassment will be referred to the VBSO’s Professional Standards Office for investigation. Sexual abuse allegations and/or incidents of sexual abuse that occur within the Virginia Beach Correctional Center where evidence indicates that criminal conduct occurred will be referred to the Virginia Beach Police Department (VBPD) for investigation. This includes, but is not limited to, allegations of rape, forcible sodomy, sexual battery, aggravated sexual battery, object sexual penetration and sexual abuse as defined by the Code of Virginia and such acts defined as sexual abuse by the Prison Rape Elimination Act (Public Law No. 108-79) (PREA).
When the VBPD responds to investigate an allegation or incident of sexual abuse, Sheriff’s Office investigators will ensure assistance is provided to the VBPD in their investigatory efforts of gathering and preserving direct, circumstantial and/or physical evidence. The Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office medical contractor, NaphCare Inc., does not conduct forensic exams and therefore a SAFE/SANE nurse will be contacted as a part of the response protocol.
The credibility of an alleged victim, suspect or witness shall be assessed on an individual basis and shall not be determined by the person’s status as inmate or staff. The departure of the alleged abuser or victim from the employment or control of the Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office shall not provide a basis for terminating an investigation.
The Virginia Beach Sheriff’s Office coordinated response for reported or observed sexual activity is depicted in the chart below [include attached chart].
If the first responder is not a deputy but a civilian staff member, contractor or volunteer, the responder shall be required to request that the alleged victim not take any actions that could destroy physical evidence and shall then immediately notify security staff.