Steven* is an 8-year-old boy who experienced a sexual assault by a stranger. He was in a public location when a man approached him, touched him inappropriately, and exposed himself. Steven was distraught and anxious for many weeks after the assault. He was unable to talk about it without becoming visibly agitated. Law enforcement referred the family to the CAC. Counseling was started immediately, and his parents were involved and supportive. The CAC coordinator kept them informed of updates in the criminal case, and she arranged for court preparation meetings with prosecutors. Steven was able to visit the courtroom and deal with his anxiety gradually. Closed-circuit TV testimony was arranged when it was determined by Steven’s therapist at the Collins Center that testifying in open court would be too traumatic. Via closed-circuit, Steven was eventually able to successfully testify. As difficult as it is, the testimony of child victims is essential to the successful prosecution of sex offenders. Healing from this frightening assault will continue into the future for Steven and his family. The Child Advocacy Center is pleased to be able to reduce some of the burden on these innocent child victims.
Erin* was 8 when her stepfather began violently abusing her while her mother was at work. He threatened to kill her if she told, so she didn’t. The abuse continued for over two years until she finally told a relative during a trip to another state. Erin and her relative happened to be in a city that had its own Child Advocacy Center when she disclosed the abuse. The CAC conducted a forensic interview, a medical exam, and contacted our local jurisdiction. The case resulted in many criminal charges and significant intervention by most of the member agencies of the Child Advocacy Center. For more than a year and a half, the CAC routinely coordinated efforts between all of the agencies participating in Erin’s services. The goal was to maximize the mother’s involvement and provide the most help to the victim. When the victim’s mother could not afford her insurance co-pay, the CAC assisted the family in filing for the Crime Victim Compensation Fund. The Family Assessment and Planning Team (FAPT) provided money for transportation to counseling. Other agencies including Social Services and the Community Services Board, also provided either case management or funding to help this child. In addition to the intensive case management, Erin also received group counseling, court preparation, and court accompaniment. It was during a routine meeting of the CAC/MDT that Erin’s needs were identified, and together the various professionals collaborated to provide services. CAC staff continually reached out to the victim’s mother in an attempt to improve the mental health of the victim. Erin’s perpetrator was eventually sentenced to prison, but the CAC remained involved. Erin continued in therapy for many months, and services for her family continued to be available.