Thanks to a new law, several services for young victims of sexual assault will be combined in a state of the art facility.
The East Hunting Park facility will house the Philadelphia Police Department’s Special Victims Unit, the Department of Human Services sexual abuse investigation unit and staff from the city district attorney’s office and the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance.
“We hope by working together we can better service families, reduce trauma to victims and obtain justice for children,” said Deborah Harley, the head of the district attorney’s office that handles sexual assault cases.
The combined location is best for everyone, including victims of abuse, agreed Chris Kirchner, executive director of the Philadelphia Children’s Alliance.
“Very few cases have witnesses or physical evidence, children in these situations often feel helpless and confused,” Kirchner said. “As we know from recent high-profile cases, secrecy and shame often conspire to keep victims silent allowing the abuse to continue in some cases for years.”
There are about 1,700 cases of child sexual abuse a year in the city, officials say, an the new facility should help to both treat victims and bring cases to court.