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NEWS RELEASE

OFFICE OF THE UNITED STATES ATTORNEY

WESTERN DISTRICT OF MISSOURI


JOHN F. WOOD



Contact Don Ledford, Public Affairs ● (816) 426-4220 ● 400 East Ninth Street, Room 5510 ● Kansas City, MO 64106

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html



APRIL 26, 2007

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE


NATIONAL CRIME VICTIMS RIGHTS WEEK

U.S. ATTORNEY LAUDS WORK OF

CHILD PROTECTION CENTER

            KANSAS CITY, Mo. – John F. Wood, United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, announced that Julie Donelon, executive director of the Child Protection Center, was honored today as the recipient of the Crystal Kipper & Ali Kemp Memorial Award.


            The award is presented each year during National Crime Victims’ Rights Week to recognize the outstanding work of an individual or organization in protecting children from exploitation.


            “Julie Donelon is one of the unsung heroes in that effort and a valuable partner in our Project Safe Childhood initiative,” Wood said. “Her tireless work over the last decade has made a dramatic and positive impact for victims of child abuse in Jackson County. On a daily basis she works to ensure that the voices of child abuse victims are heard, and helps protect these children from returning to abusive homes.”


            Donelon is the driving force behind the Child Protection Center, a nationally accredited child advocacy center. The center’s mission is to improve the community’s overall response to child exploitation. This involves working with various agencies at all levels of an investigation and prosecution, providing training to community groups and professionals, and coordinating services such counseling, medical care or legal support. Most importantly, this involves working closely with children who are victims of abuse or neglect, or who may have been a witness to violence.


            The Child Protection Center serves as a child-friendly, safe place for victims of abuse and neglect to be interviewed after a report of abuse has been made to law enforcement officers or child protective services workers. The Forensic Interview Program provides specially trained examiners who conduct forensic interviews of children who are alleged victims of abuse or sexual assault. These videotapes interviews are then used in the investigation and prosecution of the abuse.


            The Center also has a Victim Advocacy Program. The program was designed to provide immediate support to children and their families in order to reduce the stress and anxiety that is caused by what seems to them a confusing and intimidating system. These services are vital in helping victims stabilize their lives and heal from the abuse they have suffered.


            “The work of the Child Protection Center enables investigators to conduct their investigations more swiftly,” Wood said. “As a result, child victims are removed from dangerous situations more quickly, preventing further abuse. Siblings of victims are prevented from being exposed to similar abuse. And offenders are incarcerated and held accountable for their crimes.”


            In 1996, the year of its inception, the center served 343 abuse victims. In 2005, the center served more than 800 children.


            “That is a tragic commentary on the scope of the problem we confront,” Wood said, “but an inspiring testament to the hard work and dedication of Julie Donelon and her co-workers at the Child Protection Center.”


            While providing more services to more victims, the Child Protection Center has struggled to accomplish its important work with limited resources. Donelon has spearheaded the drive to take the center to the next level, transitioning from a state Family Court program to an independent, not-for-profit agency. This transition, which occurs on July 1, 2007, will allow the center to diversify its funding and expand its services.


The Crystal Kipper & Ali Kemp Memorial Award


            Crystal Kipper was an 18-year-old Gladstone, Mo., resident who was murdered after her car broke down on Interstate 29, just north of Platte City, on Feb. 24, 1997. Ali Kemp was a 19-year-old Blue Valley North High School graduate who was murdered on June 18, 2002, while she worked at the Foxborough neighborhood swimming pool in Leawood, Kan.


            The parents of Kipper and Kemp participated in today’s presentation of the fourth annual Crystal Kipper & Ali Kemp Memorial Award to Donelon.


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This news release, as well as additional information about the office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Missouri, is available on-line at

www.usdoj.gov/usao/mow/index.html