Boyd C. Allen

The Curry County District Attorney’s office and Oasis Shelter Home have received a federal grant for nearly $500,000 to fund three positions and prioritize cases involving domestic violence, sexual assault, dating violence, stalking and elder abuse.

Lea Sevey, executive director of Oasis Shelter Home, worked with DA Everett Dial to write the grant. The grant funds a deputy DA, a part-time investigator and a full-time advocate.

Josh Spansail, who worked as a deputy DA, moved into the new deputy DA position focusing on domestic crimes and sexual assault. Oasis moved Olivia Davis into the advocate position.

The DA’s office is seeking an investigator to fill a new part-time position. They will also hire a deputy DA to fill Spansail’s last position. Dial noted that the money from the grant allows him to staff his office more like comparable counties.

The grant, funded by the Office on Violence Against Women under the Department of Justice, will last for three years. Sevey submitted the grant in February after realizing that budget cuts would likely affect the DA’s office.

“Seeing what we see at Oasis, I knew people would be arrested for domestic abuse or sexual assault and were going to have their cases dismissed,” Sevey said.

Domestic violence cases are also difficult to prosecute.

“These are not slam dunk prosecutions,”she said. “These people lead messy lives. Multiple children and multiple parents can be involved. There might be housing issues or drug and alcohol abuse. Many factors are involved.”

Spansail and an investigator will work under the DA. The grant positions should be staffed and running by late December.

“The grant money gives us the ability to deal with these types of crimes efficiently and with proficiency. And the investigator position allows us to do the proper follow-up work without burdening the police who are already busy,” Dial said.

Oasis will manage Davis, who will guide victims of domestic violence or abuse through the system. She will ensure that victims of these crimes know their rights and how to exercise those rights.

Now that Sevey has written a successful grant, she plans to ensure that it is renewed.

“If we demonstrate that we have used this money wisely and we have the numbers for a quantitative analysis, we can show that we properly administered this grant. And then renewal should be much easier,” she said.

Davis and Sevey will attend a grant administration orientation in Washington, D.C. to learn about grant reporting procedures, services to be provided and legal issues including confidentiality.

Getting this grant could open other doors, Sevey added.

The numbers and analysis from this grant could be used to write other grants, and other community groups could learn from this.

Sevey said the information that this grant work garners could help others apply for federal grants — the goal is to protect victims and improve the community.