March 6, 2017 will undoubtedly be one of the darkest days of my life. My world changed that day. That was the day no father would ever want to relive. I found out that my daughter was a victim of a crime that in today’s society occurs far too often. Fortunately, there are people that are there to help at a moment’s notice. In CAP, they turned out to be our hero.
After a few days of almost desperation and consulting with our pastor who happened to recommend CAP, Jana McDermott, Carey Lee, and the staff at CAP would become the only reason my family is still standing today. These events drastically changed each one of our lives in their own way during this process. Once CAP became involved, we made one of the most difficult decisions we have ever had to make in our lives up to that point. No person would ever want to make a decision that would implicate their own family member. From the start, my wife and I agreed that no matter what the cost, we would do what was best for our child, period. Fortunately, my wife and I had never been through something like this before and we were utterly lost. We were on an emotional rollercoaster and didn’t know where to turn to.
When we were given the number to CAP and after our initial phone call, the legal process had begun before we had known it. In New York State, there is a thing called a mandated reporter. There are a wide variety of those that are required to report the abuse or maltreatment of children. Everyone from law enforcement, medical personnel, and those that generally work with young children. We spoke with the wonderful Carey Lee, who would become our greatest asset in the journey that lay ahead. The very next day, child protective services were at our home starting the investigation. We effectively went into lockdown mode, shutting ourselves off from family. We had multiple interviews with county law enforcement and CAP. In short, our lives were about to change drastically.
We immediately discussed our children with Carey and what we could do to best help them endure these events emotionally. Through the staff at CAP and their unwavering support, we almost immediately contacted counseling services that were able to sit down with our daughter and begin a very painful but necessary evaluation and recovery process. The CAP facility is very child friendly and through their thoughtful consideration, we were able to accomplish what both law enforcement and the counseling staff at CAP needed to proceed with minimal disruption to our daughter’s life.
Law enforcement with the Chautauqua County Sherriff’s office, CAP, and staff with Child and Protective Services were brought together as one to monitor a forensic interview with our daughter. In the past, parallel investigations would be held, which would mean our daughter would have to endure multiple detailed interviews that would undoubtedly not serve in her best interests. The forensic exam room allowed our daughter to discuss the details freely, while law enforcement and CPS observed and recorded via closed circuit camera in the room next door. After the interview was over, we were able to walk out the front door without having her to relive the details ever again.
After the forensic interview, the legal process began in earnest. Court proceedings were underway and the discussions on our future were occurring daily. Carey and the staff at CAP were vital in guiding, supporting, and comforting my family. At no time after our initial contact, did we feel as though we were alone. Always supportive be it accompanying us to a court proceeding, or listening to us vent about a particular subject, we knew that CAP had our back 100% of the way. They were there to lend a hand in sorting out counseling bills. They were by our side during each and every painful court hearing. They were there for us. Bottom line. At no point did we ever feel alone.
Through CAP and their cooperation with the Chautauqua County District Attorneys office, Mr. Andrew Molitor, CAP, and our family were able to sit down and discuss the most appropriate path forward to the resolution our case. The DA’s office was vital in understanding what our opinion was and did their absolute best to serve the people of the state of New York and most importantly, our daughter. It is through their careful and brilliant prosecution, and cooperation that we were able to find a mutually acceptable resolution. Mr. Dave Morton with the County Sheriff’s office was one of the finest examples of law enforcement that I have ever met. He took into account our daughter first and foremost with the concern and deft touch that was needed to handle our situation.
Even after the conclusion of the legal proceedings, CAP has been vital to our continued success and recovery. Our children are healing. We, are healing. Without the role that CAP has played throughout, I am certain that my family and I would not have made it this far successfully. The role that CAP plays in the coordination of law enforcement, child protective services, counseling, and support in my humble opinion is vital and I have vowed that from this point forward, I will do whatever I can personally and professionally to support their program. Their services are vital to the families of Chautauqua County that are in these situations and should be supported wherever possible.
We would like to express our most sincere thank you and gratitude to Jana, Carey, Dave, and Andrew. Without you, I am not sure my family would have made it.