The county state's attorney's office has entered cyberspace, introducing a home page on the World Wide Web.
Anyone with Internet access can download information on dealing with bad checks, domestic violence, victim rights and the victim witness assistance unit, said Marcie S. Wogan, deputy state's attorney.
"Our office is the first [state's attorney's office] in the state to go online with a Web page," Wogan said. "So far, it offers information about the office and staff as well as the various services that are available."
Rather than travel to the prosecutor's office in Westminster or the county courthouse, citizens can obtain forms from the Web page to apply for restitution in bad-check cases, she said.
The Web page has been designed and will be updated periodically by Karen Boggs of the Mount Airy branch of the Carroll County library, or by Scott Reinhart of the main library in Westminster, Wogan said.
Yet to be installed is information on child support and directions to the office at 125 N. Court St.
"Those two [items] probably will be online and available within the next week," said Boggs, who began working with Wogan on the Internet project in the summer.
State's Attorney Jerry F. Barnes became interested in Internet access and a Web page last year after child pornography on the Internet became a major issue, Wogan said.
That interest was reinforced more recently by the Sharon R. Lopatka slaying case, in which the Hampstead woman apparently arranged for her own death through an Internet chat room. Her body was found in North Carolina in October.
"We hope to turn Internet use into something positive," Wogan said.
The home page is a first step, and Barnes wants to continue upgrading his staff's computer capabilities.
A computer link between the state's attorney's office, state police, the Rape Crisis Center, Family and Children Services and the Child Abuse/Sexual Assault (CASA) unit is planned, Wogan said.
"Our office just received a $10,000 grant from the National Network of Children's Advocacy Centers. In part, the money will be used to link the CASA unit's computers to ours, so chat rooms can better be monitored to prevent exploitation of children," she said.
The upgrade also could make possible better tracking of convicted child molesters and eventually provide a link to a national case-tracking system, Wogan said.
The recent grant was combined with two others obtained last year for a total of $20,000, said Wogan.
"Without cost to Carroll taxpayers, we will be able to send six of our investigators plus [Assistant State's Attorney] Tracy Gilmore, who prosecutes most of our child-abuse and sexual-offense cases, to the national symposium on child abuse in Huntsville, Ala., in the spring," Wogan said.
The state's attorney's home page is on the Internet at http: // www.carr.lib.md.us/stateatt.
Pub Date: 1/05/97