“On a Monday morning, just after arriving at school, Danny found the courage to tell his teacher that his step-father had been sexually assaulting him for the past year. He disclosed that the last assault had occurred that same morning, after his mother left for work. His teacher reported the abuse immediately to law enforcement and child protective services. The investigative entities made an emergency referral to Harmony House Children’s Advocacy Center (CAC), a United Way agency, and an appointment was scheduled for the same day.
Danny arrived at the CAC with his mother after being transported by the children service’s worker. They were greeted by the child and family advocate, who explained the process and policies of the CAC to Danny and his mother. They completed all necessary consent forms, and the advocate worked to make Danny feel safe and comfortable at the center. Once the entire multi-disciplinary team was present, the forensic interview specialist completed a forensic interview with Danny. During the interview, Danny disclosed what he had told his teacher that morning and provided details about the many times he was sexually assaulted in his own home. While Danny was being interviewed, the child and family advocate provided supportive counseling and a needs assessment with Danny’s mother in the waiting room. It was during this assessment that the mother disclosed that she had been physically abused by her husband for the last year as well, but she never suspected he could be doing something as horrific as sexually abusing her child.
Once the forensic interview was completed, the multi-disciplinary team met with Danny’s mother to discuss the next steps that were necessary. The child and family advocate arranged for a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner (SANE) to complete a medical exam for Danny that same day for the child’s physical well-being and because evidence may still be present. A medical referral was also offered to the mother due to the repeated physical assaults she had experienced by the same perpetrator, as well as a referral for services from a domestic violence service provider.
While the investigation was on-going, Harmony’s House’s Child and Family Advocate provided follow-up services to Danny and his mother by checking in regularly, explaining victim rights and ensuring those rights were being afforded to them, educating them about victim services that were available, and coordinating mental health referrals for both. The forensic interview specialist tracked the case through its entirety and assisted the investigators and prosecutor’s office with information imperative to the investigation.
Due to the strength of the case and the evidence that was obtained, the perpetrator decided to accept a plea deal that was offered to him to spare the victims from testifying at a trial. A sentencing hearing was scheduled, and Danny and his mother decided they wanted to read victim impact statements aloud during the hearing. Both came back to Harmony House, so the child and family advocate could assist them with writing their victim impact statements and prepare them for the hearing.
On the day of the sentencing, Harmony House staff was present while Danny and his mother stood in front of the courtroom and their perpetrator and read how their lives were changed and damaged due to the crimes committed against them. Doing this provided them a sense of empowerment and closure at the end of the case. Danny and his mother were also assured that Harmony House would be available if they had any needs in the future.”
– Harmony House