- Associated Press - Wednesday, September 23, 2015

INDIANAPOLIS (AP) - Activists trying to fight Indiana’s high rate of sexual assault announced a new publicly-funded organization that will work to prevent sexual assault Wednesday, roughly one year after a similar group was disbanded by a court-appointed manager because it was financially insolvent.

Supporters of the Indiana Coalition to End Sexual Assault say they will take fiscal accountability seriously and have learned from the fate of the former Indiana Coalition Against Sexual Assault, which dissolved in June 2014 after it could not pay its taxes.

But how the newly created nonprofit will finance its mission, a major stumbling block for its predecessor, is a question that looms over the effort. Aside from a limited and unspecified amount of state funding, the group has not said how much money it needs to be effective.

“Obviously we’re going to seek public grants, but these coalitions … can’t survive on public grants alone,” said board President Frank Pulice.

The group has a “robust” plan to court private donors and businesses for funding, though those efforts are in their infancy, Pulice said.

Indiana has the nation’s second-highest rate of teenage sexual assault, according to the Centers For Disease Control. And advocates say there is a dire need for the services offered by the former organization, which provided sexual assault victims with guidance and helped connect them with counseling services. The group also conducted training sessions for law enforcement and workers at domestic violence shelters.

Former U.S. Attorney Deborah Daniels, the court appointed manager who shut down the old group, said people involved in that effort were well intentioned, but not focused or collaborative enough to raise the money needed to survive.

“They didn’t put together the kind of organization that had accountability,” said Daniels, who was present at the announcement but does not serve on the board. “There was also some difficulty in working with the various people that an organization must collaborate with in order to be successful.”

Those selected to fundraise and operate the new effort were chosen with the problems plagued the old group in mind, said Daniels, who is former Gov. Mitch Daniels’ sister.

“This board put itself together with exactly those kinds of problems in mind,” she said.

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