Child abuse battle helped

Prosecutors, police say new computers will speed effort

A boost to staff morale

More personnel also being directed to unit formed in 1991

March 10, 1999|By Mike Farabaugh | Mike Farabaugh,SUN STAFF

Three new state-of-the-art computers will put Carroll County's Child Abuse Sexual Assault unit on a fast track to nabbing online pornographers and pedophiles, but that tells only part of the story, says Sgt. Ronald Mosko.

Mosko, a 27-year veteran with the Maryland State Police, supervises the unit, a cooperative effort known as CASA that was begun in 1991 with the state's attorney's office and dedicated to investigating and prosecuting abusers of children.

Besides affording Internet access, the computers will speed report writing, allow direct access to other agencies and boost staff morale, Mosko said.

"Getting rid of antique equipment can pump new life into our investigators," he said. "Morale is always an issue, where everything we do is dramatic and can be so depressing," he said.

The CASA staff, which includes Cpl. Wayne Moffatt, Tfc. Charlene Yinger and investigators Bill Dugan, Ruth Ann Arty and Tom Bader, has handled an average of 300 cases a year in the past three years.

"The new computers will help us generate reports on cases more quickly and get us back on the street sooner to work on another case," Mosko said. "They'll also enable us to share information with other agencies."

The CASA staff also includes a prosecutor, a crisis counselor and an administrative assistant, Gail Moscati.

Increased efficiency

Deputy State's Attorney Tracy A. Gilmore, who has handled nearly all child-abuse prosecutions for State's Attorney Jerry F. Barnes, said the new computers will increase the efficiency of the CASA unit, which is based in the county's Department of Social Services building on Distillery Avenue in Westminster.

"As soon as CASA is up and running online, I'll have a direct link to their database and they will have access to my files," she said.

Gilmore said Laura Kozlowski, an assistant state's attorney, has begun assisting her and will soon take over the trial work involving child-abuse and sexual-assault cases. That would free her for more supervisory and administrative responsibilities, she said.

Training, which Gilmore said is "required by law and an absolute necessity in keeping abreast," is another possible benefit of the modern technology.

"We will be looking into possible online training," Gilmore said.

Next week, Kozlowski will attend the National Symposium on Child Abuse in Huntsville, Ala., along with Rosanna Bryson, a crisis counselor from Family and Children's Services, three investigators and a social-services worker, Gilmore said.

`Scary' statistics

The crime of child abuse -- sexual, physical or neglect -- knows no social, cultural, religious or economic boundaries, Mosko said.

"National statistics say that one in three girls and one in five boys will be abused before they are 18 years old," he said. "That's scary and shows the need we have for anyone and anything that can help us do our job."

Sheriff Kenneth L. Tregoning wants to assign a deputy full time to the CASA unit and hopes to do that by July 1, Mosko said.

"This crime hasn't hit its peak yet," he said. "Many cases go unreported and never come to our attention."

Child abuse "splits the family structure down the middle," Mosko said. "In many cases, half believe the child and half believe the abuser, and I can't even pretend to know what it does to the child victim."

Mosko said abuse by a stranger is rare. It almost always is committed by a relative, boyfriend, girlfriend, family friend or neighbor.

"Adding Rosanna [Bryson] three days a week has really helped parents deal with learning their child has been abused," Mosko said.

Gilmore agreed.

"We have charged about 20 [suspects] since December, and, from a prosecutor's view, Rosanna has made a major impact in helping prepare witnesses for trial," she said.

Pub Date: 3/10/99

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