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Woman texts 911 to report sexual assault

Posted at 11:29 AM, Jul 07, 2015
and last updated 2015-07-07 18:30:49-04

BATTLE CREEK, Mich. -- A man was taken into custody for an alleged sexual assault after the apparent victim texted the emergency to 9-1-1.

Battle Creek police reported early Tuesday morning the incident happened in the first block of Convis Street in the city.

Police said the woman victim texted a message to Calhoun County Consolidated Dispatch alleging a man in her home would not quit touching her. The woman hiding in her bathroom and told police the suspect was a friend of a friend who was forcing himself on her after she had told him to leave.

Tuesday afternoon, the male suspect, 20-year-old Damien Darling was arraigned on a lesser assault charge than criminal sexual conduct.

Calhoun County recently implemented a system of texting for 911 calls last month, primarily to assist victims of domestic violence, according to Jeff Troyer, executive director with Calhoun County dispatch.

“A lot of the cases we’ve seen, it’s sometimes where an individual can’t vocally communicate, they can’t make that phone call to 9-1-1, or they’re scared that if they make a phone call, whatever situation they’re in, it might create more of a safety risk," Troyer said.

"In this case just yesterday, the individual felt there was an unwanted individual at the home who was not following their requests, so rather than making a voice call, the individual went to the restroom and was texting back and forth with 9-1-1.”

Troyer said the 911 text system has been utilized in five other instances in the past month since it's been fully operational. While useful, Troyer said the service still has flaws, most notably that texting 911 doesn't automatically provide dispatchers with the location of the origin of the text.

“This is an added tool, the most advantageous way to reach 9-1-1 is always to call because we get two-way conversation and more information," he said.

“Our message: call if you can, text if you can’t. We always prefer the voice call, and that’s typically going to be the first question asked once we’ve got the location information is ‘can I make a voice call to you?’”

At the beginning of June, Ionia County Central Dispatch became the first in West Michigan to offer the text to 911 service.