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Every year, hundreds of cases arise within Webb County involving allegations of child abuse. Texas law recognizes that child abuse can take many forms, including physical, sexual and emotional abuse as well as the neglect, abandonment and endangerment of children. These crimes are prosecuted by the District Attorney’s Special Victims Unit. The Special Victims Unit, or SVU, consists of attorneys specially trained in the prosecution of cases involving children.

The Prosecution of Child Abuse
Criminal cases involving child abuse are highly specialized and sensitive in nature due to the great deal of emotion and trauma for the child victim and the difficulties in securing evidence. The Special Victims Unit consists of a team of prosecutors that are parents, former educators and individuals who have a desire to work for the benefit of children. They understand that the children are looking to the Unit for answers whether that may come from holding the guilty accountable or from gaining closure through an internal peace.

Evaluating a Case
The members of the Special Victims Unit meticulously examine and evaluate each case of abuse in order to determine its merits and the best course of action. In doing so, they must keep in mind the victims’ rights and wishes while securing the safety and well-being of the community as a whole.

The Family Room

In order to reduce the trauma to children testifying as victims or witnesses in a court hearing, the Honorable Judge Oscar Hale, Jr. and former District Attorney Joe Rubio together financed the Special Victims Family Room, a peaceful place where victims and their families wait during hearings and trial and also provide closed circuit testimony. From the SVU Family Room, a child’s testimony is transmitted “live” to the courtroom. By utilizing the technology of closed-circuit television, a child may be seen and heard by the judge, jury and courtroom audience as he or she testifies from the tranquil setting of the Family Room.

In order to educate the community about the signs and symptoms of abuse, members of the Special Victims Unit regularly conduct training sessions for teachers and administrators, counselors, service providers, private citizens and law enforcement. When an individual is suspicious of abuse or witnesses signs or symptoms of abuse, they must realize that they may be the one person that can change the course of a child’s life.

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