The Northwestern District Attorney’s Child Abuse Unit (C.A.U.) established in 1987, consists of assistant district attorneys, family service advocates, and child interview specialists who work closely with law enforcement and child protective services workers to provide a multi-disciplinary approach to child abuse (S.A.I.N.) .
The C.A.U.'s mission is to stop child abuse and child abusers, to protect children, and to keep children and families safe, healthy, and strong. The Unit specializes in investigating and prosecuting cases involving the abuse of children and uses a child-friendly setting, the Children's Advocacy Center to help children feel comfortable and safe. The C.A.U. partners with local and national experts to seek just outcomes and to provide support, medical care, and mental health services to victims and their families.
Child abuse cases are singularly difficult to prosecute. No other type of case presents such consistently complex psychological and social dynamics. No other type of case so often requires the assistant district attorney to go to trial with a child as the most crucial witness. Child abuse victims face unique challenges. In the vast majority of these cases the offender is a trusted authority figure - family member, friend, neighbor, babysitter, clergy member, scout master or teacher - who physically or sexually abuses a child dependent on that person. And unlike victims of most other crimes, child victims of abuse are sometimes castigated as villains by family members and friends who hold them responsible for shattering the family structure.
The specifics of a child abuse investigation depend on the type of report alleged, such as physical, sexual, kidnapping, luring/enticing, internet crimes, endangering or neglect; the child's age and ability to communicate, and how soon the report is received after an abuse incident.