In March 18 Issue
There is a team of individuals dedicated to making sure everything possible is done for the victims and their families in cases of children who are sexually assaulted.
The Lake Cumberland Children's Advocacy Center is assigned a 10-county area, which includes Russell County, where it is located.
The Jamestown office, just south of the school board building, looks like any other home.
Bikes and playground equipment in the yard make it look even more like a home. Other than the camera and high security entrance door, it does not resemble what it is— a government office dedicated to collecting evidence and assisting in the prosecution of those who assault children.
The staff there include Pam Eads, the executive director and Loretta Coppage, the assistant director.
Eads said they are backed up by graduate students like Danelle Cooma who help with the children and follow up on cases.
Coppage is specially trained in forensic interviewing, which means that in a room, decorated like a child's room, she is able to interview a victim just once while prosecution and law enforcement looks on.
The staff said they keep from “re-victimizing” the child, forcing him or her to relive the incident again and again, by using a single interview.
Coppage said the agency saw 232 children last year, with the largest number of them being younger children.
She said that of that 232, five of the children were from Russell County.
In the first 6-months of this fiscal year, she said there have been nine local children in their office.
Cooma, a volunteer worker at the advocacy center, said they put a great deal of work into things other than getting the story to those who will build a case against the abuser.
“I think our education programs are very important,” Cooma said. “We have parenting classes—and Loretta is doing counseling with victims.”
Coppage said that counseling and therapy is available to those who have no insurance or other way to get the help they need to get over the trama.
Though well over 90 percent of what they handle are sexual abuse cases the center also is open for serious physical abuse cases and situations where children are traumatized by witnessing violent crime.
Eads said the center is also there for the parents of abused children, and parents who have concerns.
“We have parenting classes going on right now,” Eads said.
For more information on how the center and its staff can help any family contact them through email at firstname.lastname@example.org or by phone at 270-343-6922.
March is both Sexual Assault Awareness and Child Abuse Prevention month in the county.