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September 2013 Windham County Safe Place

The Vermont Center for Crime Victim Services recently recognized Windham County Deputy State’s Attorney, and SUSU MDT member David Gartenstein for his efforts to better serve and protect children who have suffered sexual abuse. Gartenstein joined the state’s attorney’s office in 2004 and specializes in prosecuting child sex-abuse cases. He said the state has been attempting to better “focus” investigations through the establishment of special-investigation units (SIUs) in each county. Though Shriver indicated most counties relied on Chittenden County’s established CAC/SIU model in setting up their own units, she said based on Gartenstein’s experience, he understood such a model “would not work for our county.” She explained David knew for their SIU, the focus should be on the person who interviewed the crime victim, but there should also be focus on connectivity to services for the crime victim. Gartenstein said the child-interview specialist is a key part of the Windham County special-investigation strategy and by utilizing a pilot project with a child-interview specialist in their SIU, Windham County has a greater coordination of services for child victims of sexual assault, and also said, “After handling a substantial number of child sex-abuse cases, I concluded that investigations could be more effective if we were able to coordinate with a person who is specially trained and whose primary job is to interview children”. He went on to say when a sex-abuse crime is reported, he is focused on three priorities: learn what happened, ensure the victim’s safety and gather information effectively. “It helps to make sure that a child isn’t traumatized by having to undergo repeated interviews about what happened.” Shriver concluded that Deputy State’s Attorney Gartenstein is a strong leader in their SIU, and his philosophy has spread through law enforcement, the Vermont Department for Children and Families and their own SIU staff. Windham County Safe Executive Director Alyssa Todd celebrates her one-year anniversary in September – happy anniversary Alyssa! Alyssa began her career in the Springfield Department for Children and Families before assisting the Springfield Area Parent-Child Center as they established their child advocacy center. After moving to Philadelphia to attend Graduate School in 2010, she returned to Vermont realizing that, despite the challenges, she wanted to continue working in the field. Safe Place will hold its first annual Night Golf Tournament on September 21st, 2013. For more information, contact Alyssa or check out their website!


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