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Officials commit to working together on child abuse cases

Clanton Police Chief Keith Maddox, Chilton County Sheriff John Shearon, Jemison Police Chief Shane Fulmer, Thorsby Police Chief Rodney Barnett, Butterfly Bridge Executive Director and children forensic interview specialist Jana Zuelzke, Chilton County DHR Director Marilyn Colson and Butterfly Bridge Therapist/Advocate Lachandra Brooks-Prim came together Friday morning to renew their commitment to working together in county child abuse investigations. Not pictured was Maplesville Police Chief Todd Ingram and Chilton County Chief Deputy District Attorney C.J. Robinson. (Photo by Emily Reed)

Clanton Police Chief Keith Maddox, Chilton County Sheriff John Shearon, Jemison Police Chief Shane Fulmer, Thorsby Police Chief Rodney Barnett, Butterfly Bridge Executive Director and children forensic interview specialist Jana Zuelzke, Chilton County DHR Director Marilyn Colson and Butterfly Bridge Therapist/Advocate Lachandra Brooks-Prim came together Friday morning to renew their commitment to working together in county child abuse investigations. Not pictured was Maplesville Police Chief Todd Ingram and Chilton County Chief Deputy District Attorney C.J. Robinson. (Photo by Emily Reed)

Several local officials came together Friday morning to renew their commitment to working together in county child abuse investigations.

The event was held at the office of Butterfly Bridge Children’s Advocacy Center.

“This is just a time where we put it in writing that we will work together,” said Jana Zuelzke, executive director and child forensic interview specialist at Butterfly Bridge.

The local multi-disciplinary team’s mission is to “cooperate in a collaborative approach to cases involving child victims in order to facilitate strong case development and reduce the amount of trauma on the child victim.”

Police chiefs from Clanton, Jemison, Maplesville and Thorsby, and the Chilton County sheriff, representatives from the District Attorney’s office and Chilton County DHR were some of the entities signing a form stating their commitment to continue working together.

“It takes all of us working together,” Zuelzke said.

During the 2014-2015 Fiscal Year, Butterfly Bridge conducted 127 interviews with 113 children and adolescents at the request of local law enforcement and the Department of Human Resources.

During those interviews, the types of allegations included 75 percent reported sexual abuse, 13 percent reported physical abuse, 8 percent reported witness to violence, domestic violence reported 3-percent and 1 percent was “other” types of allegations.

Out of the relationships of the perpetrator to the child or adolescent, 4 percent were step-parents, 27 percent were adult acquaintances, nine percent were juvenile acquaintances, 12 percent were other family members, 11 percent were juvenile family members, 16 percent were fathers, 7 percent were mothers, other known people were 10 percent and unknown individuals made up 4 percent.

There were 13 multi-disciplinary child abuse case review meetings and there were 412 case reviews at those meetings, which were coordinated by Butterfly Bridge staff.

Zuelzke said there were also 392 advocacy services to include advocacy at the time of the forensic interview, extensive follow-up and referrals for each family, court preparation and accompaniment, parent support sessions and sentencing accompaniment.

The overall total of services provided for the 2014-2015 Fiscal Year included 1,258, which was an increase from the previous fiscal year of 1,169 services.

To learn more about Butterfly Bridge, visit www.butterflybridgecac.org or call (205) 755-4205.