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Child sex assault cases continue to inundate deputies
Wilson County NewsJuly 11, 2012 | 2,173 views | 7 comments
(Revised 7/11/12, added additional information at end of story) “It’s not only this county; it’s everywhere in the state of Texas,” said Chief Deputy Johnie Deagen of the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office about the county’s continued surge in sexual assault cases. “I don’t know if it’s more victims coming forward or if it’s more bad guys.”
As of May 31, the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office had 10 reported cases of sexual assault against children since the year began, for which there had been one arrest. At that same time in 2011, the county already had 16 cases and six arrests.
With regard to the county’s incorporated cities, officials in La Vernia and Poth have had no reported incidents, while the Floresville Police Department reported three. Lt. Chad Clark of the Floresville Police Department said two of their cases already have been cleared, but that the third involved an adult victim who has not cooperated with the investigation.
Deagen said one of the resources Wilson County deputies have used to aid in these prosecutions is San Antonio Child Safe, which has provided forensic interviews and advocacy services for juvenile victims of sexual assault. However, this partnership is ending, because Bexar County has become overwhelmed with its own cases and no longer can provide assistance to agencies in surrounding counties. A similar service in Seguin also is unable to handle outside cases, leaving Hondo or Gonzales as the nearest facilities to assist in these investigations.
This is why, Deagen said, the 21 law-enforcement agencies within the 81st Judicial District are attempting to establish an advocacy center that could be used by local agencies.
In Wilson County, victims of sexual assaults mostly are children, who Deagen said usually are being molested by family members. He said national statistics indicate that sexual assaults mostly are perpetrated by people that the victims know. This often results in the crime being hidden sometimes for years after an incident occurred.
Despite this, Deagen said the sheriff’s office has a good success rate in prosecuting these cases, often succeeding in convictions with proven cases.
“The investigators do a good job,” he said. “Lots of times, they get confessions.”
Deagen urges victims of sexual assault to continue reporting these crimes to local law-enforcement personnel, as each claim is taken seriously.
“We’re going to do whatever we can,” he said.
Investigators face ‘CSI effect’
For the Wilson County Sheriff’s Office, for which Chief Deputy Johnie Deagen and three other investigators are charged with probing sexual assault cases, prosecution sometimes can be a time-consuming process. Deagen said a conviction takes an average of two years.
Area residents often become frustrated or impatient with law-enforcement personnel because of what the chief deputy calls the “CSI effect” permeating the court system. The sophisticated electronic analytical gadgets seen on TV crime dramas, including the “CSI” and “Law & Order” franchises, do not exist for most police departments and sheriff’s offices.
“We don’t have the technology,” Deagen said. “Even your largest law-enforcement agencies do not have this equipment. A lot of it does not exist.”
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