The Investigative Team
The County Attorney/Prosecutor
The prosecutor leads the team and has the final decision as to whether charges will be filed. Consideration is given too many factors which will affect the likelihood of success in court. Some of the factors considered are: age and maturity of the child, the child's ability to testify, whether or not the suspect has confessed, presence of physical evidence, and whether or not there are other witnesses. Prosecution may not happen in every case.
The Law Enforcement Officer
The Rockingham County Police Departments have investigators on the Child Advocacy Center Team. They interview children, non-offending parents, suspects and other witnesses, and gather evidence from the scene of the alleged event.
The Child Protective Service Worker (DCYF)
The role of the Division for Children Youth and Families (DCYF) is to help protect your child. DCYF has no role in the prosecution of the offender. Their primary objective is to work with the family and to develop safety plans and goals. The DCYF social workers conduct some interviews. They may refer you and/or your child to counseling or other community agencies.
Dr. Gladstone is a member of the team and she has multiple years experience in examining children for possible abuse. The exam for sexual abuse involves a regular check-up with magnification of the genitalia. This is done with a special camera that Dr. Gladstone has been trained to use. If the child is having discharge or other symptoms, cultures may be obtained by swabbing the genitalia with a Q-tip. This exam should not be traumatic or painful, and most children are calm and seem not to mind. Remember, however, an exam may not indicate if the child has been abused. 80% of all children who have been abused have normal exams, even with a history of penetration, so the team does not rely on these alone to prove abuse. One definite advantage is that it allows the doctor to assure the child that his/her body is OK.
The Forensic Interviewer--CAC Staff Member
The Child Advocacy Center has a trained forensic interviewer on staff that will be doing most of the child interviews. There are some exceptions to this where the police investigator or DCYF worker who has been also trained in forensic interviewing has a rapport with the child or is the only one available. The CAC staff are neutral to the investigation and our primary objective is to obtain information while keeping the child comfortable and safe.
The advocate is not part of the investigative team but is an integral part of the multi-disciplinary team.They provide the non-offending parents with advocacy, support, information and referrals in a confidential manner. They sit with the non-offending parents while the interview is going on. Having an advocate provide support is voluntary and they can be asked to leave at any time. Services that are provided include a 24-hour Support line, accompaniment to the hospital, police department, or court, a safe confidential 24 hour emergency shelter and support groups. Our advocates are from Sexual Assault Support Services (SASS) .