Advocating for Children in Our Court System

9 Jan

It sounded exciting to 14 year old Allie when a group of older boys asked her and her friend, Kim, to skip school and go hang out at a new arcade that had just opened. They promised they would have the girls back to school before dismissal. Allie and Kim didn’t get much attention from their peers and were flattered and excited that these guys had asked them to go along. But once in the car, the boys headed in the opposite direction of the arcade and out into a rural area. When they drove down a dirt road and stopped in front of an old shack, Allie began to get a sinking feeling in her stomach. For the next three hours, Allie and Kim were gang raped repeatedly by the four older boys. They then took the girls back to the school, as if nothing had happened, and warned them not to tell anyone. After all, they had gone along willingly, hadn’t they? But when Allie’s Mom came to pick them up from school, she could tell something was wrong. Allie and Kim both started to cry and told her everything. A police report was made and both girls went to the hospital for a sexual assault exam. When the police concluded their investigation, they charged all four boys with sexual assault, two as juveniles and two as adults. They referred the families to Children’s Court Services at the Houston Area Women’s Center for assistance with the rest of the legal process. Both families were assisted in filing for Crime Victims’ Compensation and referred for counseling. The court cases were monitored and the families were kept updated on the status of the cases. Eighteen months after the sexual assaults, the juvenile cases were set for trial. The court advocate met with the girls and talked about what court would be like. The girls had two main concerns – that kids from school would be in the audience and that they would not be believed. The court advocate explained that there were already many people that believed them – that’s why they were getting ready for trial. She agreed to talk to the prosecutor about the possibility of closing the courtroom when the girls testified. When they got to the courthouse for trial, they learned that the prosecutor had agreed to let the boys enter a diversion program that would negate the need for a trial. The juveniles would have to go to treatment, change schools and stay out of trouble. While the parents were disappointed with the outcomes, the girls were relieved that they didn’t have to testify. Even though there weren’t any convictions, they felt like the boys had admitted to what they had done. Allie and Kim have now completed their counseling at the Houston Area Women’s Center and feel like they are ready to move on. But, there are still two adult cases pending. Children’s Court Services will continue to provide information and support to the families until all of the cases have been concluded.

(Names in this story have been changed and some identifying details have been omitted in order to protect the privacy of those involved.)

About Children’s Court Services:

Children’s Court Services (CCS) assists child victims of crime and/or witnesses to crime, and their families, as they participate in the criminal justice system. Our court advocates educate, support and accompany children and their non-offending family members as they prepare for the court process. All services are free of charge.

To learn more about CCS click here .To speak to an advocate about Children’s Court Services, call our 24-Hour Hotline at (713) 528-2121 or call Pam Hobbs, Manager of Children’s Court Services at (713) 528-6363 ext. 2255

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2 Responses to “Advocating for Children in Our Court System”

  1. Karen Moorhouse January 17, 2013 at 4:02 pm #

    Does your organization need volunteers?

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