The Capital Area Sexual Assault Response Team (CASART) has voted to remove Listening Ear's membership.
Listening Ear consists of a volunteer staff trained to deal with crises over the phone for depression, sexual assault, grief, and other situations.
In June 2016, FOX 47 News reported Listening Ear discovered three volunteers working for the organization were registered sex offenders.
Days later Listening Ear dismissed the three volunteers and voted for new rules requiring background checks on call current and future volunteers.
CASART's co-chair Tashmica Torok tells us the decision to revoke Listening Ear's membership was a difficult decision.
"It was really a long decision based on a lot of conversations with others within CASART," said Torok. "Along with people who have served with Listening Ear ear as well as their own consultant."
Torok is also the executive director of Lansing's Firecracker Foundation which helps young children who are victims of sexual assault.
"I have the right and also the responsibility to make sure that people I'm serving in the community know where to go for safe services," said Torok. "Whether or not the Listening Ear decides to move forward with making the changes that CASART has recommended or not, my role in within CASART and within the community at large is just to make sure that people can know where to go that is safe for them."
We reached out via e-mail to Listening Ear spokesperson Alicia Parrish. Parrish says in a statement "The Listening Ear respects the members of CASART and their mission. Having just found out about this, we don't have an official statement at this time."
Many other organizations in greater Lansing offer sexual assault services which include :
- MSU Sexual Assault Program (517) 372-6666
- Capital Area Response Effort (CARE) (517) 272-7436
- End Violent Encounters (EVE) (517) 372-5572
- Safe Center (877) 952-7283
- MSU Safe Place (517) 355-1100
The firecracker foundation is looking to hold prevention training for any parent or guardian to help learn more about child sexual trauma.
We'll let you know when a specific date is set.