LAKE COUNTY, Fla. – Deputies in Lake County say a phone number written on a pamphlet given to domestic violence and sexual assault victims actually went to a sex hotline instead.
The victims’ rights pamphlet handed out by deputies offers an 800 number that connects callers to a recorded message that says, “Welcome to America’s hottest talk line. Ladies, to talk to interesting and exciting guys free, press 1 now. Guys, hot ladies are waiting to talk to you.”
“We’re giving out wrong information and I sure don’t want my victims calling a sex line,” said Kelly Smallridge, the Executive Director for the Haven, a victim’s advocacy group whose number was supposed to appear on the fliers.
Smallridge fears victims never reached the services they needed.
“I have a huge concern about it,” said Smallridge. “The sheriff’s office is passing this out. It’s on the Internet. That’s not our number, obviously, and I can’t figure out where it came from, so I definitely need to figure out how many police agencies around here have that number. Are all the brochures wrong?”
Lake County Sheriff’s Office Sgt. Jim Vachon said they print the numbers that they’re given and the same number has been printed on the fliers for years without any correction by Haven.
Nobody knew where it led victims, until Tuesday.
“We got a call from a victim we had given a pamphlet to and said that number was not going to the Haven,” said Vachon.
It’s unclear how the mix-up happened. The sheriff’s office called it a clerical error, but Smallridge said the Haven never had an 800 number.
“I can’t imagine anybody missed a resource that they needed,” said Vachon, who said the sheriff’s office has told deputies to stop handing out the fliers until it can print new ones with the proper information.
Vachon also said that a victim advocate at the sheriff’s office makes contact with every victim of violent crimes.
The correct 24-hour hotline to the Haven of Lake and Sumter Counties is 352-753-5800 for domestic violence, or 352-787-1379 for sexual assault.