District Attorney’s Office Launches Special Victims Unit to Combat Sex Crimes
Published 4:27 pm Thursday, January 25, 2024
In response to the increasing prevalence and complexity of sex crimes in the 22nd Judicial District, the District Attorney’s Office has announced the establishment of a dedicated Special Victims Unit (SVU) aimed at providing comprehensive support for survivors and holding perpetrators accountable.
Led by Interim District Attorney J. Collin Sims, the SVU will focus on addressing all forms of sex crimes, serving both adult and child victims. This initiative underscores the commitment of the District Attorney’s Office to prioritize the protection of vulnerable members of the community.
“The creation of this unit marks a significant step forward in our efforts to combat sex crimes and deliver justice to survivors,” stated Interim District Attorney J. Collin Sims. “We are building upon the legacy of former District Attorney Warren Montgomery, ensuring that protecting our most vulnerable remains a top priority.”
The need for a specialized unit became apparent due to the rise in forensic interviews with child abuse victims. According to data from Children’s Advocacy Center – Hope House, the number of interviews conducted surged from approximately 280 in 2017 to over 440 in 2022. These numbers highlight the urgency of addressing the growing issue of sex crimes in the region.
The SVU, which officially launched at the close of 2023, comprises four experienced staff members within the D.A.’s Office, with plans to expand further by adding another seasoned sex crimes investigator. Additionally, a dedicated victim assistance coordinator, fluent in both English and Spanish, has been appointed to provide comprehensive support services to victims and their families.
“Sexual abuse inflicts lasting trauma on victims, and addressing these crimes requires specialized expertise and collaboration,” remarked Assistant District Attorney Ysonde Boland, Supervisor of the SVU. “By establishing a dedicated unit, we are better equipped to respond to the needs of survivors and pursue justice on their behalf.”
The SVU operates within a Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT) framework, which includes representatives from law enforcement agencies, the Department of Children and Family Services (DCFS), expert physicians, human trafficking specialists, and victim advocates. This collaborative approach ensures a coordinated response to trauma and facilitates the gathering of crucial evidence for prosecution.
“The establishment of the SVU is a testament to the dedication of all stakeholders involved in combating sex crimes,” affirmed Boland. “Together, we are providing a voice for victims and working tirelessly to ensure that justice is served.”
For more information about the District Attorney’s Office and the SVU, visit collinsimsda.org.