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Sex Offense and Domestic Violence

Sharon Marcus-Kurn, Chief
Jodi Lazarus, Deputy Chief (Felony DC and Sex Offense AUSAs)
Mark O'Brien, Deputy Chief (Felony Sex Offense AUSAs)
Kene Okocha, Deputy Chief (Misdemeanor DC and Sexual Assault AUSAs)

The Sex Offense and Domestic Violence Section is responsible for the investigation and prosecution of all misdemeanor and felony cases within the District of Columbia that involve:

  • An “intrafamily offense” (more commonly known as “domestic violence”), that is, criminal conduct that occurred between two people (the defendant and victim) who were or are related by blood, marriage, domestic partnership, or adoption, share a mutual residence, have a current or previous romantic, dating, or sexual relationship, and/or have a partner-in-common;
  • Sexual abuse of any form, involving adult or child victims;
  • Child physical abuse by a relative, parent, teacher, or other person in a position of trust or authority with the child;
  • Voyeurism;
  • Stalking;
  • Sex Offender Registration violations;
  • Unlawful publication of pornographic images; and
  • Human trafficking (labor and sex).

The Sex Offense and Domestic Violence Section is staffed with four supervisors (a Chief and three Deputy Chiefs), and a large number of highly trained and extremely skilled and dedicated prosecutors who handle misdemeanor and felony cases involving the above crimes.  Two senior prosecutors in this Section chair the D.C. Human Trafficking Task Force, an entity consisting of over 40 law enforcement and non-governmental agencies from the D.C. area that focus on increasing the awareness of domestic and international labor and sex trafficking and the prosecution of traffickers, while identifying and serving the victims of this horrific crime.  The Section also runs the Sexual Assault “Cold Case Initiative.”  Launched in February of 2018, this Initiative, the brainchild of one senior Sex Offense prosecutor, involves a partnership with the Metropolitan Police Department’s Sexual Assault Cold Case Unit to reinvestigate unsolved sexual assault cases and brings charges where appropriate.  These reinvestigations are based on identifying cases that could benefit from additional forensic testing, including new methodologies and secondary testing, comprehensively pursuing overlooked leads to develop suspects, and bringing John Doe indictments to preserve cases under the applicable statutes of limitations.

All cases assigned to this Section are prosecuted vertically, that is, one prosecutor is responsible for the case from the initial interview of the victim, through the investigation and charging process, to trial, or other disposition.  The Sex Offense and Domestic Violence Section Assistant United States Attorneys are supported by Victim-Witness Assistance advocates and two child interview specialists who have vast expertise in the areas of domestic violence, child abuse and sexual assault, along with paralegals and legal assistants.

Members of the Sex Offense and Domestic Violence Section work closely with local and federal law enforcement agencies and community organizations on issues related to domestic violence, sexual abuse, trafficking, and other forms of crimes against children.  These community organizations include the Child & Adolescent Protection Center of Children’s National Health System, the D.C. Children’s Advocacy Center, the Domestic Violence Intake Center at the Superior Court of the District of Columbia, the D.C. Forensic Nurse Examiners, the Network for Victim Recovery of D.C., the Wendt Center for Loss and Healing, D.C. Rape Crisis Center, George Washington University, and Medstar Washington Hospital Center.

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Updated January 15, 2020

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