hired for Child Advocacy Ctr.
English Burnett, Editor
The announcement that Stephanie Black has taken the position of
forensic interviewer for the Region 15 Child Advocacy Center (CAC)
was met with excitement at the Youth Workers Café
held Tuesday, August 4 at the Department of Childrens Services
Black comes with high credentials, holding bachelor and master
degrees from Indiana University as well as completing the Finding
Words program, a technique that minimizes the trauma to a child
when they are interviewed in a child abuse case.
Im looking forward to working with the center,
Black told The Versailles Republican. She is a graduate of Jac-Cen-Del
High School and came highly recommended from her position at Riley
Hospital in Indianapolis.
Were fortunate to have her, Prosecutor Ric Hertel
told those gathered at the meeting on Tuesday that was sponsored
by the Ripley County Council Against Substance Abuse. He said
with child cases, very few have absolute evidence such as DNA
and mostly rely on the childs testimony. The first
interview is critical to the case, he explained. Blacks
work is crucial to the well-being of child victims. She began
her duties with the center on Monday of this week.
The Region 15 Child Advocacy Center located in Dillsboro, is designed
to coordinate investigations of child abuse by bringing the needed
professionals together to help families in a child-friendly atmosphere.
Sarah Brichto, executive director of the CAC, came in on the ground
floor of the facility, before there was even a ground floor
Hertel noted. She has traveled the country to research these types
of centers. She showed the floor plans outlining the structure
of the interview process, the high tech equipment, and the overall
services the center will provide.
Brichto noted that the new center is the first regional center
in the state of Indiana. She is thankful for grants such as the
$10,000 from the Ripley County Community Foundation for the start-up
of the center. Not only does it offer the ultimate care for the
victim and non-offending family members, but it is proven to be
about $1,000 less expensive per case for taxpayers. Its
a win-win situation, with the first priority being the child,
according to the prosecutor.
Nearly 40 people gathered at the Tuesday luncheon for one common
goal: to promote the welfare of children. They come from a variety
of backgrounds, some teachers, school and church counselors, Court
Appointed Self Advocates (CASAs), Department of Childrens
Services employees, business leaders in the community and more.
Lunch was provided by the Indiana Youth Institute, an organization
devoted to positive youth development.
With statistics such as: one out of four girls and one out of
six boys being the victims of abuse; 67% of victims of sexual
assault are juveniles; 34% of sexual assault victims are under
the age of 12 and one out of every seven victims of sexual assault
is under the age of six, the urgency for the CAC was evident.
Other facts presented include that cases of sexual abuse without
a CAC involved have a much less chance of a conviction.
76% when handled by a CAC
39% when none was involved
Charges filed when victim was 4-6 years old:
71% when handled by a CAC
25% when none was involved
Charges filed when the victim was 12 years and older:
93% when handled by a CAC
40% when none was involved
Guilty plea or verdict:
56% when handled by a CAC
24% when none was involved
More startling facts presented were in Ripley County (2008 DCS
Report) 549 reports of abuse or neglect were taken involving 806
Traci Eggleston, director of Department of Childrens Services
for Ripley and Decatur counties spoke to the importance of the
CAC. She noted from her experience it is imperative to get child
victims quickly to a safe environment and only have one interview.
Black described the center as being one where everything
is about the child. She explained the interview process
as a balance of science and art, understanding the dynamics involved.
Its a complicated process, but one that can be narrowed
down now thanks to the new center. Eggleston agreed this is the
best scenario and looks forward to the new option in these types
Hertel noted that the bottom line is being able to protect the
child. While we want to punish the criminal, its mostly
that we want to protect the child, he told the crowd. He
explained how a plea agreement is sometimes made to keep a child
from being put through the rigors of testifying. He said while
some people dont agree with it, and he certainly would like
the perpetrator to get the maximum sentence, sometimes its
more about the mental and emotional well-being of a child.
The Region 15 Childrens Advocacy Center serves the counties
of Ripley, Dearborn, Decatur, Jefferson, Ohio and Switzerland
counties. The mission of the center is clear: To give children
a sense of normalcy and a non-traumatizing experience while participating
in the investigative process by coordinating the essential agencies
to provide forensic interviews and comprehensive services in a
child-friendly environment. The center has the goal of treating
the children with dignity and respect, something theyve
been denied by the offending perpetrator.
You can and are obligated to report abuse or suspected abuse or
neglect by calling 1-800-800-5556.
WANDA ENGLISH BURNETT
Pictured from left were presenters at the Youth Worker's
Cafe held Tuesday, August 4 at the Department
of Children Services in Versailles: Traci Eggleston, director
of DCS, Sarah Brichto, director of Region 15 Child Advocacy
Center, Stephanie Black, newly hired forensic interviewer
for the center, and Ripley County Prosecutor Ric Hertel.
Brichto and Black hold the floor plans showing how the
new center, located in Dillsboro, is situated.