FRANKFORT, Ky. — Attorney General Daniel Cameron today joined Kentucky Youth Advocates, Kosair Charities, and statewide partners in the Face It Movement to announce the release of a Child Abuse Prosecution Toolkit. Developed by the Attorney General’s Criminal Division, the toolkit equips Kentucky prosecutors with best practices and resources to prosecute child abuse cases.
“The Child Abuse Prosecution Toolkit provides prosecutors across the Commonwealth with best practices to assist in the prosecution of child abuse cases,” said Attorney General Cameron. “These cases are often some of the most complex and challenging cases that a prosecutor will face in his or her career, and our office is committed to providing resources and support. Kentucky consistently ranks first in the nation for incidences of child abuse and child maltreatment, and this toolkit is a step toward ensuring that any individual who abuses or neglects a child in the Commonwealth is fully prosecuted.”
The toolkit highlights the importance of cooperation in addressing incidences of child abuse by encouraging collaboration between stakeholders, including Commonwealth’s and County Attorneys, social workers, physicians, and advocates.
Earlier this year, Attorney General Cameron joined Kosair Charities President Keith Inman and Kentucky Youth Advocates Executive Director Terry Brooks, along with child welfare representatives, for a roundtable to discuss methods for combatting child abuse. This toolkit was an idea that arose from that meeting and, prior to today’s press conference, the group gathered for a follow-up roundtable to discuss next steps.
“Every child deserves to grow up safe and healthy with the support to reach their fullest potential,” said Keith Inman, president of Kosair Charities. “Kosair Charities works diligently towards that goal with our over 100 statewide partners in the Face It Movement – a movement committed to preventing and ending child abuse in the Commonwealth. We commend Attorney General Cameron’s commitment to helping reach that goal, even more crucial amidst an isolating pandemic, by implementing efforts to ensure perpetrators of abuse cannot harm another child.”
“There’s a pandemic in Kentucky that, unlike COVID-19, sadly is not new,” said Dr. Terry Brooks, executive director, Kentucky Youth Advocates. “But, like COVID-19, it sweeps across our Commonwealth like a plague, impacting every community in every county. But there is hope when it comes to the tragedy of child abuse. We understand its causes and we can not just address it, we can end it. That solution requires intentional actions by us all around prevention and detection. It demands deep investments for those children who have suffered the tragedy of abuse. It takes the tough edged prosecution of abusers. You’ve heard the phrase before but it rings so true when it comes to child abuse – we are all in this together, and together, we can end it.”
The toolkit aims to support prosecutors as they work to protect Kentucky children from abuse and is part of a larger effort to end child abuse in the Commonwealth.
“Working in partnership is critical, because those who harm children do not recognize jurisdictional boundaries,” said Robert M. Duncan, Jr., U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky. “It is important for law enforcement across the state to collaborate with each other to address the harm caused by child abuse and hold offenders accountable for their actions.”
The toolkit provides a roadmap for prosecutors to follow when they receive a child abuse or neglect case and walks prosecutors through conducting the investigation, interviews of the victim of witnesses, and trial preparation. Topics such as charging strategies, pre-trial and trial issues, and trauma-informed prosecution are also covered. In addition, applicable case law and statutes for reporting requirements, victim notification, discovery, indictment, and other issues are included to provide a quick reference for prosecutors.
The manual is accompanied by resources that will be available on the Attorney General’s website for easy viewing and download. These resources include sample motions, opening statements, medical release forms, and social media law enforcement guides that can be customized by prosecutors for use in obtaining discovery and preparing for trial.
“As a prosecutor in a smaller jurisdiction, the development and implementation of the child abuse tool kit is a vital resource for prosecutors in these smaller jurisdictions,” said Courtney Baxter, Commonwealth’s Attorney for the 12th Judicial Circuit. “I appreciate the Attorney General’s work on this important issue and the development of this invaluable tool. Bringing all the players to the table allows us to combine our resources and knowledge to protect the most vulnerable in our society and reach our goal of eradicating child abuse.”
“Prosecutors have the responsibility to achieve justice for the child victim and to protect the community from offenders who may go on to sexually abuse others,” said Lou Anna Red Corn, Commonwealth’s Attorney for the 22nd Judicial Circuit. “Child sexual abuse cases are among the most challenging of cases to prosecute. Medical evidence is available in less than 5 percent of the reported cases of CSA, and the prosecution often must rely on the testimony of a child. The Attorney General’s toolkit will truly assist the state prosecutors because it includes not only the substantive law for the issues that arise in CSA prosecutions, but equally important, it includes information and resources for a trauma-informed, victim-centered prosecution. The state’s prosecutors appreciate the time, research, and thoughtfulness that has gone into the Child Abuse Prosecution Toolkit and we will turn to the toolkit again and again.”
The Office of the Attorney General will make the Child Abuse Prosecution Toolkit available to prosecutors throughout the Commonwealth. The toolkit is available to download here.