COVINGTON, LA. – A St. Tammany Parish Judge has signed a temporary restraining order prohibiting Dr. Christopher Tape, Coroner of that Parish, from unilaterally canceling the long-running sexual assault nurse examination program (“SANE”).

The ruling comes just days after STAR, the Sexual Trauma Awareness and Response Center, and the coroners of Livingston, Tangipahoa, and St. Helena Parishes filed a lawsuit against Dr. Tape, the new Coroner for St. Tammany Parish. STAR and the coroners filed suit on March 28, 2024, asking a judge to order that Dr. Tape could not unilaterally cancel the Sexual Assault Response Plan for the Louisiana Department of Health’s Region 9.

His decision would have scrapped an annually approved Response Plan and, most importantly, would deprive victims of sexual assault of the treatment and care they need and deserve. A hearing on the injunction was also set for April 8, 2024, in St. Tammany Parish.

Morgan Lamandre, CEO of STAR, said that the difficult decision to sue Dr. Tape was bolstered by the outcry from advocates and the public. She said Dr. Tape’s actions warranted bold action from the non-profit organization.

“We thought about it a lot – and we didn’t make this decision lightly. But, in the end, we needed to show survivors we are here for them, we support them, and we will sue if it means fighting for them,” Lamandre said. “With the signing of this restraining order, we’ve showed that we are going to do whatever it takes to ensure survivors get the treatment and care that they deserve.”

The suit seeks to require Dr. Tape to hold to the state-mandated plan for treating sexual assault victims in the Region 9 Parishes: St. Tammany Parish, Washington Parish, Tangipahoa Parish, St. Helena Parish, and Livingston Parish. The restraining order, signed Tuesday, requires Dr. Tape to continue the program for the time being. STAR also alleged that Dr. Tape violated a Memorandum of Understanding that provided STAR-trained advocates to assist victims of sexual assault in the Region 9 Parishes.

After suit was filed, Dr. Tape publicly backtracked on his decision to set aside the SANE program, noting that the impact on his colleagues, the other coroners, was a serious concern. He also claimed that financial reasons led to his abrupt cancellation of the program, even though the previous coroner has stated that the SANE Program’s grants and additional funding has resulted in a surplus.

Other coroners in the region said they rely on the St. Tammany Parish SANE Program for immediate medical treatment for survivors. Dr. Rick Foster, coroner of Tangipahoa Parish, said he was “flabbergasted” when he learned through the media that St. Tammany’s 7-year stewardship of the program would abruptly end. He and other interest groups, including STAR, all confirmed that they received no warning–written or oral–about the program’s apparent end.

Dr. Ron Coe, the Livingston Parish coroner, told the Times-Picayune | that he believes the SANE program has become the “standard of care” for immediate treatment for victims of sexual assault. He continued, “For the St. Tammany Parish coroner to abruptly end it for our whole region is a disservice for so many, many people, both past and future victims.”

The abrupt cancellation of the SANE program without any concrete explanation has united officeholders, advocates, and stakeholders across the political spectrum. Along with STAR, they have strongly advocated for the SANE program and sexual assault survivors.

“We have been so humbled by the outpouring of public support—the texts, e-mails, and social media comments—for our efforts to stand up for victims. We hope the momentum continues,” said Lamandre. “The response and result of this injunction send a clear message to survivors of sexual assault that we will continue to advocate for them and ensure necessary resources exist for all those in need.”

Please join STAR in advocating for sexual assault victims here.

Interested parties and members of the press should direct inquiries to Morgan Lamandre at (225) 615-7093 ext 104 or