Lotus Children’s Advocacy Program is based on a multidisciplinary team (MDT) approach to the investigation, prosecution, and treatment of child abuse cases across the eight counties of the Purchase Region. In our child friendly settings, skilled professionals provide comprehensive services to help child abuse victims and their supportive family members through the entire process from crisis through long-term recovery.
Aimee Clymer-Hancock, Graves County First Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney and head of the Vulnerable Victim Unit, plays a key role in the MDT approach as the “captain” of the Graves County team. Watch the video below to hear how the MDT approach improves safety, healing, and justice outcomes for children and families.
In my office there is a poster on my wall—I call my office the justice league—and we say that every little boy is a super hero and every little girl is a wonder woman. I have justice league rules, the number one rule is “we tell the truth.” I tell that to my friends because I want them, always, to tell me the truth. I also make them a promise, that I will always tell them the truth.
Recently, we had a case go to trial.
The very young victim in this case had worked diligently with Lotus, even through virtual means to be prepared, talking with Lotus representatives and engaging in court prep sessions with Lotus as well as myself. We prepared her for what it might be like to walk into the court room, amongst many strangers and her abuser feet away from her. With Lotus and myself by her side, she was ready to go.
Prior to our walking into the court room, this young victim broke down in the hallway in tears, she hung her head and she repeated, “I can not do this.”
Having spent many Thursday afternoons looking at her, along with Lotus, through a screen, we had talked about how important it was to look me in the eyes and building rapport and connection. I remember leaning in front of her, holding out my hands, my face was at her level and I had my back to the court room door. I said to her, “look me in the eyes, let me have your eyes.”
Grace Stewart of Lotus was right behind this child and I remember her saying, “look Aimee in the eyes.”
The most miraculous thing happened because of the time, investment, and rapport building that had been taking place all those weeks and months before. That precious child looked up and looked me in the eyes.
That was the moment I knew that we were going to walk into that court room. So, I put my arm around her shoulders and I said, “I am with you.”
We took the step together. We walked into that court room, I placed her in the witness box, she looked at Richie Kemp, the Commonwealth’s Attorney, and he began to ask her questions.
She answered those questions with a level of sincerity, integrity, and bravery that far surpasses her years. And in that case, she not only faced her abuser but held him accountable. She is victorious because she is a truth teller, she is courageous and brave, and because she had the support of a Multi Disciplinary Team who surrounded her and met her needs to the best of our ability.
Working together as a community, has a huge impact in cases such as the one Aimee described. It reminds us all how important every community role is in the journey for justice.