MOULTRIE -- The number of child sexual abuse cases for Colquitt County is

rising. And local officials are particularly worried about the increase

in juvenile perpetrators.

"It's more often that we see that. It used to be rare," Colquitt County

Department of Family and Children Services Director (DFCS) Sandra Rogers

said.

Currently, prosecutors have 21 sexual abuse cases pending. In three of

those, the accused are juveniles. Four molestation cases appear on the

criminal court docket to be disposed before year's end.

Since the Colquitt County Child Advocacy Center opened its doors, there

have been two jury trial convictions with one life sentence and 29

guilty pleas resulting in 334 years of prison and probation time,

prosecutors said.

There were also two acquittals and seven dismissals. In one acquittal,

the case began before the advocacy center was set up, and the taped

interview of the child right after charges were brought was botched.

One of the benefits of the advocacy center is its child-friendly

environment and careful monitoring of interviews. Cases are brought from

the Department of Family and Children Services or from law enforcement.

So far this year, the center conducted 87 interviews of children

suspected of being sexually abused, Executive Director Laura Winders

said. That 's an increase over 76 interviews for the entire year of

2002, she said.

The Georgia Center for Children's last statistics (1995) indicate that

12.6 percent of confirmed or substantiated cases of child abuse and

neglect investigated by public child protection services were sexual

abuse cases.

Abuse cases overall are up, Rogers said. Within the last year, there were

751 new reports of child abuse. September was a particularly heavy month

with 76 new cases, she said.

If one suspects sexual abuse, contact law enforcement, DFCS at 217-4000

or the child advocacy center at 890-5549.



To contact reporter Lori Glenn, please call 985-4545, ext. 224.

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