WASHINGTON - The Navy will begin implementing the Department of Defense’s (DoD) Catch a Serial Offender (CATCH) program as a means to identify serial sexual assault offenders, Aug. 5.

Participation in the CATCH program is voluntary and allows a sexual assault victim who files a restricted report to confidentially submit information about his or her alleged offender with the goal of matching similar data from other cases.

When a potential match is identified, a specially-trained CATCH victim point of contact will privately notify the victim and give him or her the option to convert the initial restricted report to an unrestricted report, allowing the victim to participate in the investigation.

Melissa Cohen, director of the Navy Sexual Assault and Prevention Office, said CATCH is a vital step in the mission to end sexual assault. “This is part of a multi-faceted approach aimed at holding offenders accountable,” she said.

Victims of sexual assault should contact their respective Sexual Assault Response Coordinator or Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Victim Advocate to make a report in the CATCH program. CATCH program participants will receive personal, anonymous, and secure login information to electronically enter their information directly into the CATCH database. The victim may decline to participate in the process at any stage, even after being contacted that there was a match to information they provided in CATCH. There will be no adverse consequences if the victim does not agree to participate.

Those eligible to participate in the CATCH program are adult sexual assault victims who have filed a restricted report, including current and former service members and their adult dependents. Naval Academy midshipmen are also eligible for the CATCH program.

For more information on the program, contact the DoD Safe Helpline via phone at 1‑877‑995‑5247 or online at SafeHelpline.org.

Connecticut Media Group