FRANKFORT, Ky. — On Tuesday morning, Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron announced his office and key stakeholders, like Kosair Charities, prosecutors, and medical professionals, have collaborated to publish a child abuse prosecution toolkit. The attorney general’s Spokesperson Elizabeth Kuhn said it’s the first time their office is aware that such a toolkit has been published by the state’s top prosecutor’s office.
What You Need To Know
- Attorney General Daniel Cameron announces child abuse prosecution toolkit
- Cameron says toolkit provides prosecutors with best practices for prosecuting child abuse cases
- Fayette Commonwealth Attorney Lou Anna Red Corn helped develop foundation for the toolkit
- Red Corn says child abuse cases among the hardest to prosecute
“The toolkit was developed by our criminal division, under the leadership of my Criminal Chief Amy Burke, and equips prosecutors with best practices and resources to prosecute child abuse cases,” Cameron said.
In an email, Kuhn explained that Fayette Commonwealth Attorney Lou Anna Red Corn helped develop a manual for the attorney general’s office a few years ago regarding child sexual abuse. That was the foundation for the toolkit unveiled Tuesday.
Available on the attorney general’s website for anyone to read, the 187-page document was created after a roundtable that took place in January 2020 that included the attorney general’s office, organizations like Kosair Charities, Kentucky Youth Advocates, top commonwealth prosecutors, medical professionals, and law enforcement.
One of the experts at that table, Red Corn, has 33 years of experience as a prosecutor. She said child abuse cases are among the most challenging to prosecute.
“We know that there is medical evidence in less than 5 percent of child sexual abuse reported cases. So that means the prosecutions have to rely on the testimony of children. Still, relying on children, we have a responsibility as prosecutors to obtain justice. And to hold offenders accountable. Especially when they live in communities where they may continue to offend," she said.
In 2019, an analysis looked at 500 child sexual abuse cases in one unnamed New England state over five years. The report found that less than 20 percent of cases were prosecuted. Red Corn emailed Spectrum News 1 that she finds that number to be generally correct for Kentucky, but that it can also vary depending on the jurisdiction.
“The toolkit provides a roadmap for prosecutors to follow when they receive a child abuse or neglect case. It walks prosecutors through the investigation. It interviews medical evidence and other topics. Topics such as charging strategies, pre-trial with trial issues, and trauma-informed prosecution are also covered," Cameron said.
During Tuesday’s announcement, child abuse and neglect were called a pandemic in the Commonwealth by some of those who spoke, like Kosair Charities President Keith Inman. Amid the COVID-19 pandemic, child abuse reporting is down as school is virtual and doctor's visits not as frequent. This means teachers and doctors who normally report the first signs of abuse and neglect are not seeing children in-person like before.
A 2018 Child Maltreatment Report published by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services showed Kentucky ranked number one in the United States for child abuse and neglect.
Cameron said Tuesday that prosecuting child abuse and neglect cases is critical to his office’s goal of ending child abuse in the Commonwealth.
“By holding offenders accountable and ensuring that they are met with the full force of the law,” Cameron said.