In 1992, the Lackawanna County District Attorney’s Office, through a grant funded by the Pennsylvania Commission on Crime and Delinquency, recognized the need for specially trained prosecutors and law enforcement officers equipped to deal with the complex issues surrounding sexual assault and child abuse by creating the Special Victims Unit. The goal of the Unit was to help break the cycle of sexual assault and develop the tools necessary to more efficiently and effectively prosecute crimes of sexual violence. Currently, the SVU is staffed full-time by a Deputy District Attorney, an Assistant District Attorney, and by the Chief Deputy District Attorney on a part-time basis. Additionally, the Unit has a victim advocate and two full-time County Detectives, as well as an additional County Detective focusing on technology based crimes against children and technological evidence recovery.
Both the attorneys and the investigators have considerable experience and training in prosecuting cases of child abuse and neglect, including sexual and physical assault, child exploitation and pornography as well as intercepting online predators.
Moreover, the SVU Investigators are active members in a nationwide Internet Crimes Against Children Task Force (ICAC) working in conjunction with other law enforcement agencies and the National Center for Missing and Exploited Children (NCMEC) to arrest and prosecute online exploitation of children.
SVI Investigators are also available to speak to groups and organizations on the topic of online safety for children as well as providing Internet Safety Tips for Parents.
Shortly after its creation, the Unit recognized the need for a multidisciplinary approach to both investigation and prosecution of child abuse cases. To that end, partnerships were developed between the District Attorney’s Office, the Lackawanna County Office of Youth and Family Services and a variety of social service agencies to better effectuate the goal of the multidisciplinary investigation. Moreover, an extensive effort was undertaken to provide specialized training to law enforcement officers, educators and variety of other disciplines in recognizing signs of abuse. Currently, a Child Abuse Protocol is in place to provide consistency in the handling of such cases by prosecutors, police and social services. The Multidisciplinary Investigative Team meets regularly to review individual cases, provide training, and develop new or additional protocols.
The Children’s Advocacy Center of Northeastern Pennsylvania
One of the greatest accomplishments of the District Attorney’s Office in preventing and prosecuting child abuse was seen with the advent of the Children’s Advocacy Center of Northeastern Pennsylvania (CAC). The CAC is staffed by pediatric medical professionals, forensic interviewers, and victim service advocates, and works in conjunction with the Lackawanna County Multidisciplinary Investigative Team.
If you suspect a child is being abused, please call 1-800-932-0313 (available 24 hours a day) or click the link below.
For more information contact the Special Victims Unit at (570) 963-6717.
Special Victims Unit Supervisor:
Deputy District Attorney Mariclare Hayes
Detective Chris Kolcharno
Detective Michelle Mancuso-Rudalavage
Detective Sheryl Turner