|Courtesy Luke Treat|
Senator Roy Blunt met with two area prosecutors and some law enforcers at a meeting Saturday (02-08-14) at the Child Advocacy Center in Branson West.
Stone County prosecutor Matt Selby and Taney County Jeff Merrell, Taney County Sheriff Jimmy Russell, Chief Deputy Tim Gideon and CAC Director Melinda Ingram discussed the importance of the center for victims of sexual and child abuse with Blunt.
Several of the topics discussed included the cycle of a victim becoming a perpetrator, mental health issues, and the different types of funding than the center receives to keep operating. .
" At the end of the 45 minute get together, he mentioned three things new that came out of this meeting, said Selby.
1. The child pornography on computers is a common items found during the investigation of actual child sexual abuse cases.
2. That substance abuse is commonly present in households where child sexual abuse occurs.
3. That if there is one piece in the process of investigating child sexual abuse cases that we as law enforcement would oppose reduced funding for, it would be the child advocacy centers. That is how important they are.
"Child advocacy centers are vitally important to preventing, stopping and investigating child abuse for two main reasons," said Selby.
"First, they provide a child friendly location where a child can be interviewed by a trained, experienced forensic interviewer. Such a situation provides the greatest likelihood that a child will be able to give accurate details about a possible abuse situation. A good, detailed, truthful statement best protects the accused if there was not actually criminal activity but also gives the prosecution the best chance of success where a crime was committed. The interview is also recorded so it is preserved for later use including possible use in the courtroom."
"Second, limiting the number of interviews that a young child has to do and doing the interview in a child friendly environment by a trained and experienced forensic interviewer also reduces the amount of trauma to a child who is already been subjected to traumatic situations. The goal is always to protect the child. That protection includes not only from the abuser, but also from the process of the investigation and prosecution."
Selby says "having a well functioning child advocacy center not only is one of the most important tools that we have in investigating, prosecuting and preventing child abuse, but it is the most important thing that we can do to protect children from the potential trauma of the investigation and prosecution."