In honor of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, the Niagara University Office of Violence Prevention & Education and the Niagara County Sheriff’s Office Victim Services hosted a mock case review and panel discussion on April 28, 2023. Representatives from NCSO Victim Services, Child Protective Services, the Niagara County District Attorney’s Office, the YWCA of the Niagara Frontier, the Child Advocacy Center, Niagara County Law Enforcement, and Niagara County Probation discussed their roles and the resources available to victims through their multi-disciplinary teams.
The seven panelists shared details of two fictitious cases to discuss the complexities of and barriers to prosecuting offenders while ensuring the best outcome for the victims. They also highlighted the ways in which their programs collaborate to support the victims throughout the process and beyond. Panelists included Peter Wydysh, second assistant district attorney and head of Special Victims Unit; Ashley Kraska, Special Victims cases probation officer; Jeffrey Grimm, supervising CPS caseworker; Captain Tracy Steen from the NCSO’s Criminal Investigation Bureau; Shelley Hitzel, executive director of the Child Advocacy Center of Niagara; Rachel Sandle-Sacco, YWCA rape crisis program supervisor; Stacy Suess, NCSO domestic violence intervention program and Victim Assistance Unit coordinator; and Kelly Bird, NCSO victim advocate.
The OVPE also coordinated a collection of personal hygiene products that were used to assemble survivor bags that NCSO Victim Services distributes to survivors of sexual violence.