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Assistant DA ‘fits’ child advocacy effort

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Aaron D. Carr almost seems groomed for the job.

In childhood, he was a witness to domestic violence, he said.

While attending Albany Law School, he participated in a domestic violence clinic and assisted in the representation of abused women in Family Court.

After being admitted to the state bar in 2003, he began serving as a law guardian for children in his private law practice.

And after being on Jefferson County District Attorney Cindy F. Intschert’s prosecution team for nine months, in January 2006 he became her go-to man in handling cases involving victimized children.

Now he is really into it. Effective Sept. 1, Mr. Carr was selected to serve 80 percent of his assistant district attorney duties with the Child Advocacy Center of Northern New York, an arm of the Victims Assistance Center of Jefferson County.

“He has been a part of their team for some time,” Mrs. Intschert said. “It’s just a natural progression for him.”

The Child Advocacy Center, which was formed in 2007 and was nationally accredited in 2011, is a cooperative effort among several agencies to promote a “child- friendly” atmosphere for conducting investigations into assaults, sexual abuse and any number of other issues that victimize children. Instead of subjecting young victims to several intimidating interviews by police, prosecutors, social counselors and medical practitioners, the Child Advocacy Center, on the fourth floor of the former HSBC bank building at Washington and Stone streets, offers a more friendly setting for the child. There is one interview by perhaps a couple of people, while other interested parties can watch and listen via closed-circuit TV in another room. If the viewers have questions, they can contact the interviewers.

By sitting in on an interview, or observing from another room, Mr. Carr can decide whether an accused abuser should be prosecuted in court or whether other options should be explored, Mrs. Intschert said.

“Our goal is to make sure we do a thorough investigation and decide how to move forward for the benefit of the child,” she said.

“These cases are involved and labor intensive. We think it serves the community and victims to assign a prosecutor to that program and relieve him of his caseload in other cases,” Mrs. Intschert said.

In 2011, the center conducted 139 interviews involving 268 child cases, she said. This year through mid-December, there have been 164 interviews involving 254 children.

“Two main issues that we have seen in the last few years have been assaults upon children, a very serious problem, and several victims of sexual abuse,” Mrs. Intschert said.

Mr. Carr is expected to be seen in the district attorney’s office for only 20 percent of his salaried time, handling some town court cases and occasional appeals in felony cases, Mrs. Intschert said.

With the state reimbursing the county for nearly 50 percent of Mr. Carr’s salary for his work at the Child Advocacy Center, Mrs. Intschert said, she is able to add a part-time assistant district attorney to her staff at little if any cost to taxpayers. She said she now has eight full-time assistants and one part-timer.

Mr. Carr is a 1994 graduate of Indian River Central School, and received a bachelor’s degree in 1999 from SUNY Potsdam.

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