Columbia, South Carolina --- United States Attorney Sherri A. Lydon announced today that this week, the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Carolina joined 15 states, the District of Columbia, and the Virgin Islands as a co-sponsor of the 20th annual Southern States Victim Assistance Conference. The conference, which took place August 27-29 in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida, aimed to improve support services for victims of all types of crime by providing training opportunities to federal, state, and local law enforcement, victim assistance professionals, prosecutors, NGOs, and others involved in the criminal justice system.
This year’s theme was Building Partnerships to Expand Our Reach, and the curriculum emphasized a multidisciplinary approach to victim services that is victim-centered, practice-based, and research-informed. Training topics included hate crimes, sexual assault, domestic violence, human trafficking, the opioid crisis, elder abuse, and underserved populations.
The Conference recognized the distinguished service of two South Carolinians during its Crime Victims Service Awards ceremony. Easter LaRoche, Coordinator of Victim Services for the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office, was recognized as an outstanding victim advocate. LaRoche supervises eight victim advocates and carries her own caseload, working to make sure that victims and their families who come into contact with the Charleston County Sheriff’s Office have their voices heard and their interests protected. The Medical University of South Carolina’s Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, led by Dr. Dean Kilpatrick, Ph.D., was recognized as an outstanding victim services provider. Since its opening in 1977, the Center has provided specialized mental health and clinical services for crime victims and their families and conducted innovative research, education, and training to advance scientific and public understanding of the mental health impacts of exposure to crime.
“One of the highest callings of the U.S. Attorney’s Office is to seek justice for victims of crime, ensuring they have a voice in our legal system and working to find, prosecute, and convict those who have harmed them,” said U.S. Attorney Lydon. “The Southern States Victim Assistance Conference provides invaluable training for the women and men on the front lines of victim services, and we are proud to be a part of it. We are especially proud of the hard work and dedication of Easter LaRoche, Dr. Dean Kilpatrick, and his team at the Crime Victims Research and Treatment Center, who have rightfully been recognized for the important work they do to serve crime victims throughout our state.”
Representing the U.S. Attorney’s Office on the Conference’s Executive Committee was Victim Witness Coordinator Clarissa W. Whaley, who also serves as Chair of Program Development. Through the annual Southern States Victim Assistance Conference, Whaley and the Executive Committee support the Department of Justice’s mission to ensure continued education and increased awareness regarding issues affecting victims of crimes.