The Child Abuse Unit (CAU) was established in December 2011 and continues to maintain a significant caseload of challenging cases. The primary responsibility of the CAU is to prosecute sexual and physical abuse cases committed against our most vulnerable population, our children. Specifically, this Unit oversees the prosecution and investigation of all Providence County first and second degree child molestation cases and first and second degree child abuse cases, and consults on all County child abuse and child molestation cases.
The overall goals of the Unit are for specially trained and experienced prosecutors to handle cases from investigation through arrest and final prosecution in child sexual abuse and serious physical abuse cases, to minimize the time cases move through the criminal justice system, and to minimize the difficulty for a child involved in the criminal justice process.
The CAU uses a multidisciplinary approach to prosecuting child physical and sexual abuse cases. This includes working closely with Day One, Child Protection Program (CPP) at Hasbro Children’s Hospital, DCYF and local police departments.
To this end, at least one team member of the CAU attends weekly meetings at the Child Protection Program (CCP) at Hasbro Children’s Hospital where the team of doctors, social workers from DCYF, local police departments and prosecutors discuss new cases and follow up on old cases to ensure child safety, and if applicable, make sure the perpetrators of these crimes are held accountable.
The cases discussed at these meetings are not only those which lead to criminal prosecution, but also those in which the children may need counseling and/or DCYF intervention to ensure their safety and well being. In 2013, there were 58 referrals and 36 children interviewed in Providence County, with an additional 42 referrals and 30 interviews in the counties.
In addition, the CAU plays a significant role in the operation of the accredited Children’s Advocacy Center at Day One, which provides forensic interviews for children and clinical services for children. CAU prosecutors are responsible for approving the hires to conduct the forensic interviews. Prosecutors from the Office attend every interview. In 2013, these interviews assisted in executing 13 arrests for child molestation alone.
The CAU team has worked with DCYF and the CPP to help draft legislation to eventually move the jurisdiction of child cruelty and neglect cases from Family Court to Superior Court. Most of these cases involve children who have been severely injured by a caregiver and the non-offending parent does nothing to help the child. Prosecuting these offenders with cruelty and neglect charges ensures that they are held accountable.
If you are a victim of physical or sexual child abuse, or if you know someone who is a victim, please report the crime immediately. If you would like additional information on available resources, please visit the website of Day One at www.dayoneri.org or call 1-800-494-8100 for the 24-hour Victims of Crime Helpline.