SPECIAL VICTIMS UNIT (SVU)
Phone: (908) 475-6060
The mission of the Special Victims Unit is to investigate and prosecute all allegations of sexual assault of adults and children. The Unit also Investigates child pornography and the use of the Internet and computers to sexually exploit children. The primary goal of SVU is to seek justice by holding perpetrators accountable for their conduct while treating victims with compassion, dignity and respect.
Investigations are typically initiated when disclosures are made to school officials, medical personnel, the Division of Youth and Family Services (DYFS), mental health professionals, local law enforcement, or directly to the Warren County Prosecutorís Office. Most investigations are pursued jointly by members of the SVU, local police departments, State Police and DYFS. At times, the SVU advises or assists local law enforcement with legal and investigative issues or specific tactical needs.
The Special Victims Unit also organizes, in conjunction with DYFS, regular training programs for school personnel, therapists, case workers, physicians and police officers to insure that the greater Warren County community is fully aware of the issues involved in the sexual assault and physical abuse of adults and children.
Two assistant prosecutors and a supervising detective head the SVU. Three additional detectives, two secretaries, a multi-disciplinary team coordinator (MDT)-victim/witness counselor and a SANE/SART Program Coordinator make up the balance of the Unit members.
The Multi-Disciplinary Team (MDT)
Child sexual, physical and emotional abuse investigations are conducted by a multi-disciplinary team that includes a case coordinator, detectives, assistant prosecutors, DYFS case workers, therapists and medical personnel. This approach avoids multiple child interviews that tend to traumatize the child and make the case difficult to prosecute. A trained detective interviews the victim on videotape in a neutral child friendly environment and, thereafter, continues the investigation. DYFS seeks to ensure that the child is able to live in a safe environment. The medical doctor examines the victim to collect forensic evidence and to reassure that he/she is ok. The therapist aids the child in addressing the abuse and enables him/her to testify regarding it. Assistant prosecutors present the case. The multi-disciplinary team coordinator manages the case and provides victim/witness services. The Team is there to protect the child and hold the abuser accountable.
The Sexual Assault Response Team (SART)
The sexual assault allegations made by persons who are 13 years of age or older are investigated by the Sexual Assault Response Team. SART is comprised of a certified forensic sexual assault nurse examiner (SANE), a rape care advocate, and a detective. Each is highly trained and has a critical role to play in addressing the needs of the victim. The SANE conducts forensic physical examinations that include the use of a colposcope to record the injuries of the victim at a hospital and collects and preserves relevant evidence. The rape care advocate provides information, confidential counseling, assistance and support to the person and family members/close friends. The detective interviews the victim and investigates the allegations. All members of this multi-disciplinary team coordinate their efforts to develop and ensure a victim-centered approach that focuses on the needs and concerns of a sexual assault victim to ensure the compassionate and sensitive delivery of services in a nonjudgmental manner. This victim-centered approach is designed to create an environment in which sexual assault victims will choose to report incidents of sexual assault and be supported through out the criminal justice process, whether or not the case ends with a criminal prosecution.