The 14th Circuit Solicitor’s Office marked accomplishments on many fronts in 2018. However, any apt recap of the past year is necessarily headlined by our work to serve victims of rape, domestic violence and other crimes against vulnerable populations. Hunter Swanson and the Special Victims Unit she leads are at the forefront of this effort. Created in late 2017, the SVU is devoted to cases involving the most sinister of criminals and charges that are uniquely challenging for prosecutors. Our annual report, which you can download here in PDF format, aims to help you better understand those challenges and how Swanson’s team has been tailored to meet them.
A similar success story is unfolding just down the hallway from our SVU, where several community partners joined with us to launch the 14th Circuit Victims Services Center. Hopeful Horizons, the Child Abuse Prevention Association and Lowcountry Legal Volunteers are among the organizations who help survivors of rape, domestic violence and child abuse escape danger and begin their lives anew.
Victims benefit in many ways when service providers are gathered under a single roof and risk being re-traumatized when they are not. For instance, imagine you are a child who has been sexually abused. Imagine having to tell your story to a police investigator … then repeating it to a forensic interviewer … then to a prosecutor. And imagine that in the midst of this chaos, you must drive two hours to Charleston for a medical exam, where you again recount the most awful experience of your life, this time to a doctor.
My staff, our partners and community volunteers from local civic organizations have created a child-friendly space within the center and equipped it in a manner that helps us avoid scenarios like the one I just described. The following pages will tell you more about how we are accomplishing this.
This center has been a vision for me and my staff for several years. There are only a few victims assistance centers in all of South Carolina. None have earned the “Family Justice Center” designation from the Alliance for Hope. It is my intent to build on what we have started and make this happen for the people of the 14th Circuit. I believe we’re well on our way.
Thank you again for supporting the 14th Judicial Circuit Solicitor’s Office. I am grateful to all who have helped us achieve more professional, efficient and effective prosecution. I hope you find this report informative. Please contact me if I can be of service.