Here in Chatham County, area leaders have been proactive. The District Attorney’s office reconstituted a Special Victims Unit in July 2018 to prosecute crimes committed against the most vulnerable victims. The division is staffed by seven attorneys who specialize in the prosecution of domestic violence, child abuse, sex offender registry cases, elder abuse and abuse against disabled adults.
District Attorney Meg Heap spearheaded the formation of a Sexual Assault Response Team, comprised of the SVU prosecutors, law enforcement agencies, medical professionals and the Rape Crisis Center of the Coastal Empire.
To date, there are 204 sexual assault cases pending in the office, including cases that have already been indicted, as well as those being reviewed and worked in the hope of being able to prosecute them on behalf of victims.
Ultimately, the most important thing the DA Office’s Special Victims Unit provides is hope. Hope for the victims because specially trained prosecutors and other professionals make sure crime victims feel that they have been heard, regardless of the ultimate outcome of the case. Hope that victims know that when they come forward, they will be respected. Hope that more sex crime assailants will be prosecuted and that victims will feel empowered to report these crimes.