The Bergen County Prosecutor's Office Special Victims Unit responds to sexual assaults of adults, any sexual offense of a child, and significant physical abuse of a child. The unit consists of four assistant prosecutors, a lieutenant, three sergeants, ten investigators, one agent, a SANE Nurse and a Victim Witness Advocate. The unit has the following objectives:
- To aid, assist, and supplement investigations of local departments in cases of sex crimes and child abuse.
- To offer continuity to the victim of a sexual offense throughout the criminal justice process.
- To collect and maintain current files in a central location on all known and suspected sex offenders in Bergen County.
- To educate and inform the public on such topics as safeguarding children from sexual predators, the use of the Internet by sex offenders, date rape, the necessity for victims to report sex offenses and the social services available to victims of sex crimes.
The unit is also responsible for the registration of sex offenders pursuant to Megan`s Law, along with notifications to local departments and the community, where applicable. Using a multi-disciplinary approach, that includes law enforcement, prosecution, child protective services, family services and medical services, a maximum amount of information is gathered from victims and their families with a minimum amount of trauma. This approach has led to greater communication among the varied professionals that deal with child abuse on a daily basis. Consequently, reporting is up and victims and their families are less likely to withdraw or recant, making for prosecutions that are more efficient and encompassing.
The Children`s House, a child advocacy center run under the auspices of the Bergen County Prosecutor`s Office, the Division of Youth and Family Services, and Hackensack University Medical Center has further enhanced this multi-disciplinary approach. A child-friendly interview room with observation area, pleasant waiting areas, physical examination room and meeting room are situated in a relaxed house-like setting where children feel comfortable sharing the details of their abuse.
The primary goal of the Bergen County Prosecutor`s Office Special Victims Unit is to accomplish justice by securing the conviction of any person who commits a sexually violent crime or who physically abuses a child. In addition, the Unit is determined to make the victim`s contact with the criminal justice system as trauma-free as possible. It is felt that the multi-disciplinary approach we have chosen represents the best possible chance of accomplishing these goals.