Re-elect jason woodbury
Carson city district attorney
Investigating allegations of child sexual abuse has unique challenges. Often, abuse is not disclosed until long after it occurred in which case the child’s testimony is usually the only direct evidence of the crime. So we must take extra care in understanding the victim’s account, because children are delicate witnesses. Their verbal skills, emotional regulation, and capacity for memory are still developing. More worrisome, young children may be susceptible to inadvertent suggestions and cues from an untrained interviewer.
In recent years, law enforcement has significantly improved the quality of these investigations. Detectives and forensic specialists have been trained in evidence-based techniques designed to ensure a child’s account of abuse is reliable. Now, it’s time to take the next step.
Today, depending on the circumstances and the child’s age, the victim will be interviewed in either the Sheriff’s office or the Child Advocacy Center in Reno. Both settings are adequate, but neither is optimal. A Child Advocacy Center here would offer an alternative to the Sheriff’s office or a 30-mile drive. At a CAC, a Multi-Disciplinary Team consisting of the forensic interview specialist, lead investigator, victim’s advocate, child welfare worker, mental health specialist, and prosecutor can be quickly assembled. This will allow the child’s interview to proceed expeditiously, so the child and the child’s family can pivot immediately to the healing process. We’ll also get all the information we need in a single interview, avoiding the trauma that can accompany having to relive abuse multiple times before the case gets to court.
Establishing a CAC is no small task. But with the partnerships we’ve built in my first term, we have a rare window of opportunity to meet this important community need.