Friday, October 25, 2019

A block away, Child Advocacy Center gets new home

Years ago, Betsy Goulet stood in a courtroom with her husband, Joe, as advocates trying to deal with a small child who had been sexually abused. As they were trying to get the child ready to testify, the girl crawled under the prosecutor’s table, curled up and wouldn’t come out, Goulet recalled. “We used every skill we had, which, at the time, wasn’t much,” Goulet said. “We didn’t have a clue whether she would be able to testify to what happened to her.”

Goulet said she thinks about the Sangamon County Child Advocacy Center when she recalls that little girl. At the time, the center didn’t exist. Goulet was then the rape victim advocate at the Rape Crisis Center in Springfield and her husband, Joseph, was then the sexual assault detective with the Springfield Police Department.

“We were trying to use an adult-centered agency to deal with these kids, and we were making stuff up as we could,” Goulet said. “But the door kept opening and children were coming through because there were no other services for kids.”

That eventually prompted “a nervous phone call” from Goulet to then-Sangamon County State’s Attorney Don Cadagin and led to two years of meetings before the Child Advocacy Center was set up in 1989.

Marking its 30th anniversary, the center held its official opening Thursday at its new location at 1101 E. Monroe St. It was previously located in a building on Monroe Street across the 10th Street railroad tracks from the county complex for 27 years after initially starting out in the Mini O’Beirne Crisis Nursery.

The CAC coordinates the investigation, prosecution and treatment of child sexual abuse cases, but it also deals with children who are physically abused, witnesses to violent crimes, caught up in sex trafficking or were involved in child pornography, said current executive director Denise Johnson

The goal is to sensitize the system to the needs of young victims by reducing the number of interviews they have to go through, limiting the number of professionals with whom a child has contact and expedite the cases through the judicial system.

This story appeared in The State Journal-Register on October 24, 2019.

Read the entire article online.