Child abuse cases are singularly difficult to prosecute. No other type of case presents such consistently complex psychological and social dynamics. No other so often requires the assistant prosecutor to go to trial with a child as the most crucial witness. The pressure on victims is uniquely painful.
In addition to the devastating effects of abuse itself, Child Abuse Unit
revelation or discovery of the crime frequently results Section Chief: Grace MacAulay
in the child or offender being removed from the home, Unit Commander: Lt. Eric Rios
leaving the family's life disrupted, often permanently.
In the vast majority of these cases the offender is a trusted authority figure - family member, friend, neighbor, babysitter, clergy member, scout master or teacher - who physically or sexually abuses a child dependent on that person. And unlike victims of most other crimes, child victims of abuse are sometimes castigated as villains by family members and friends who hold them responsible for shattering the family structure.
The specifics of a child abuse investigation depend on the type of report alleged, such as physical, sexual, kidnapping, luring/enticing, endangering or neglect; the child's age and ability to communicate, and how soon the report is received after an abuse incident.
DUTIES AND RESPONSIBILITIES
The unit's Assistant Prosecutors supervise investigations, file criminal charges, direct plea negotiations and conduct trials and sentencing recommendations.
The Child Abuse Unit Commander is responsible for the administrative and investigative management of the Unit.
The investigators gather all pertinent facts in all child abuse related matters. The unit's investigators must be experts in interviewing child victims and child witnesses, as well as alleged offenders. Investigators are involved in executing search warrants, photographing evidence such as injuries to a victim, arranging for medical examinations and collecting evidence.
In cases where a criminal prosecution is not supportable, cases are sometimes referred to the N.J. Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS) for social intervention.
Camden County Prosecutor Office 25 North 5th Street Camden, New Jersey 08102 856-225-8400