Special Victims Unit
Our office is committed to serving St. Joseph County residents who have been victims of sexual assault or child abuse. In an effort to fulfill this commitment, the Special Victims Unit offers the following services free of charge:
- Assistance in filling out paperwork for protective orders.
- ADT pendant alarms
- 911 cellular phones
- Answering machines
- Individual case management/advocacy and referrals
You do not deserve to be hit, threatened, or sexually assaulted. Do not suffer alone. Please call 574-235-7818 if you are interested in any of these services.
Originally established in 1996 as the ST.O.P. Unit, the Special Victims Unit (SVU) was renamed and expanded in January, 2003, under the leadership of then newly elected Prosecutor Michael Dvorak. Previously focusing exclusively on domestic violence cases, the SVU was reorganized into a model of multi-jurisdictional, multi-disciplinary collaboration in investigation and prosecution. All St. Joseph County cases involving child physical and sexual abuse, child neglect and exploitation, and adult sex crimes are investigated and prosecuted by the SVU.
This specially trained unit of the St. Joseph County Prosecutor's Office consists of:
- Law enforcement investigators
- Other prosecutorial support staff
- Victim advocates
Detectives who are trained and experienced in sexual assault and child abuse cases come together from the three major police departments in St. Joseph County; the South Bend Police Department, Mishawaka Police Department and the St. Joseph County Police Department, to coordinate their efforts and to concentrate on these specific crimes. They work under a Commander and alongside a prosecutorial staff whose expertise is these types of crimes as well.
Four victim advocates provide direct advocacy services to victims and their families helping them navigate the criminal justice process.
The SVU provides for immediate access of detectives and prosecutorial staff to one another during the investigation process, provides the prosecutorial staff the opportunity to observe and provide input during both suspect and victim interviews, and has shortened the time period between date of incident and prosecutorial review.
This multi-disciplinary approach enables victim advocates, detectives and prosecutorial staff to communicate in an effective and timely manner to improve the quality of services provided to victims of child physical and sexual abuse, child neglect and exploitation, and adult sex crimes in St. Joseph County.