FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: September 19, 2015


Media Contact: Curtis T. Hill, Jr. (574) 296-1888

Police investigations that do not result in the immediate arrest of a suspect are submitted to the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney upon completion for review and consideration of formal criminal charges. It is not unusual for criminal cases involving child victims to work through the justice system more slowly than other cases. The sensitive nature of the allegations along with the complexity of relationships often require considerable time for the completion of the police investigation and further time still for our office to review the investigation, and consult with police and other investigatory sources prior to making a charging decision. Once criminal charges are filed, the court process itself often takes several months or longer for a final resolution to the case.

Over the past several months, the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney has filed an increased number of child victim cases in the Elkhart County court system. The increase in filings are not a reflection of a spike in criminal activity but rather the result of the Office of the Prosecuting Attorney’s work in reducing prolonged delays in our investigative review process brought on by unexpected changes in our prosecutor personnel during the last quarter of 2012 and the first quarter of 2013.

During a six month period from September 2012 through March 2013, eight deputy prosecuting attorneys (over one-third of our staff) resigned from our office to pursue other interests. Of the eight, two went into private practice and six continued in public service in other jurisdictions. During that period of time we lost approximately forty-three years of prosecutorial experience across a variety of responsibilities including two deputies that were extensively trained in the area of child victim cases.

This turnover in staff at such a level was unprecedented for this office and came in the midst of County Government’s decision to withhold a pay increase for County employees (which include deputy prosecuting attorneys) in 2010, 2011 and 2013 (the County did approve a 1.5% increase for 2012). Of the eight deputies that left during this period, six cited pay as a factor in their decision to leave. One moved to Illinois to be near her fiancé and one was elected Judge in St. Joseph County.

Amidst and following these departures a number of internal reassignments and reallocation of resources were made and through August of 2014, the Office continued to review child abuse cases but was unable to process them as efficiently as before. By August 2014, additional prosecutor resources and personnel were trained and assigned to review child abuse investigations, and cases that had been delayed for review were placed back on track. Filing decisions have been made in all cases filed in 2013, except two cases involving the same suspect that are still being reviewed by prosecutors. For cases filed in 2014, including the last quarter of 2014, two-thirds have received a filing decision and those that have not are in the review process through the ordinary course of business.

It is important to note that the prosecution of child victim cases is a very specialized area requiring lawyers that are not only exceptionally well trained and skilled for the legal nuances particular to child victim prosecutions, but as importantly, mentally well prepared for the rigors of continuously working with children who have experienced the most heinous of personal violations. While we fully recognize the need and importance in processing child victim cases as quickly as possible for a number of reasons, it’s imperative that we maintain the level of experience necessary to review cases and make decisions, both to charge and not to charge, that can be relied upon by this community.

In order to prevent these types of delays in the future, my office will continue to work with Elkhart County Government to illuminate the importance of experienced, well trained and sufficiently paid prosecutors to the efficient flow of justice in Elkhart County.


“Under Indiana law, all persons arrested for a criminal offense are innocent until proven guilty in a court of law.”