Serving as the voice of justice for abused victims
Crimes of sexual assault:
The Bristol County District Attorney’s Office fully investigates and prosecutes all reported sexual assaults throughout Bristol County. Control and coercion are common themes and often the perpetrator is known to the victim. This makes it difficult for many victims to report, however the sooner a report is made the more likely we are able obtain forensic and/or physical evidence and start serving victims. Our team of prosecutors and victim advocates are specially trained to handle these cases. In addition to prosecution, we also provide follow-up support and referrals to area services that aid victims.
While reporting may be a difficult decision, it is imperative that perpetrators are held responsible and that victims are given resources to heal. To report a sexual assault, contact the police department in the town where the incident occurred. We also ask that you promptly contact our Special Victims Unit at (508) 961-1844. If you are uncomfortable with either of these options, you may contact a free service provider in your community on our Resources page. A trained professional will assist you to report the incident and provide needed support in the aftermath of a sexually-based crime.
Crimes against children:
The Bristol County District Attorney’s Office is committed to the thorough investigation and prosecution of all child abuse reports throughout Bristol County. Child Abuse takes many forms, including: neglect, bullying, endangerment, cyber crimes (‘sexting’, possession of pornography, creating pornography), physical abuse, sexual abuse and death of children. Often, crimes involving children include coercion and control by a perpetrator. As a result, abuse may occur for many years before a disclosure is made. Delayed disclosure is common and occurs for many reasons including fear, threats, isolation, family concerns or feelings of shame or self-blame. Additionally, a majority of perpetrators hold a position of trust and authority. They include parents, step-parents, family members, family friends, religious leaders, camp counselors, teachers, neighbors, and many others. Unfortunately, more often than not they are trusted individuals.
The Special Victims Unit, in collaboration with law enforcement, the Children’s Advocacy Center and the Department of Children and Families, investigates allegations of abuse to determine whether or not criminal charges are warranted. Once charged, the crimes are prosecuted. The District Attorney’s Office then works in partnership with the Children’s Advocacy Center of Bristol County to ensure a safe, comfortable environment for child victims of abuse and to provide comprehensive services for healing and well-being of both parent and child. The effects of abuse on children are devastating and can be long term. Through collaborative efforts and early intervention, we can enhance the likelihood a child will be safe and begin the healing journey.
In order for us to provide justice for these abused victims, it is imperative that incidents are reported. Certain professionals are mandated to report child abuse under MGL c. 119, Sec. 51A however anyone can report child abuse. To report suspected child abuse in Massachusetts, contact the police department in the town where the incident occurred and call the Department of Social Services’ Child-at-Risk Hotline at 1-800-792-5200. Because protecting children is of heightened concern, we ask that you promptly contact our Special Victims Unit at 774-627-1830. The sooner a report is made the more likely we are to obtain forensic and/or physical evidence.
* The Special Victims Unit is available to provide trainings for schools, medical providers, camps or any other forum that serves children.
Crimes against elders:
The Bristol County District Attorney’s office investigates and prosecutes all crimes of elder abuse as defined by MGL c. 19A Sec. 15. Elder abuse takes many forms to include physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, and financial abuse, as well as fraud, neglect and/or self-neglect. Elder abuse also includes a failure to provide care or omissions to act that result in harm or puts an elderly person at risk of harm.
The office works closely with the state Department of Elder Affairs, as well as Bristol Elder Services, Inc., a state-designated agency responsible for investigating and providing protective and crisis services in the communities of Greater Attleboro, Fall River, New Bedford, and Taunton. In addition, our community partnerships have allowed us to educate the public and encourage the reporting of elder abuse and neglect. One partnership is the Southeastern Alliance for Elders (SAFE), which enables us to work collectively with key persons and agencies in the field to prevent and eliminate elder abuse through education, awareness, advocacy, intervention, and resource development.
A report should be made whenever a person has cause to believe that abuse is occurring or has occurred. Contact your local Police Department and contact Bristol Elder Services, Inc. at (508) 675-2101. In the case of an emergency, dial 911. You should also call the Massachusetts Statewide Elder Abuse Hotline at 1-800-922-2275.
Crimes against disabled persons:
The Bristol County District Attorney’s Office prosecutes all crimes against persons with disabilities. Additionally, we partner with several agencies whose goals are to provide prompt and effective reporting, investigation, and prosecution of such crimes. Possible forms of abuse may include physical, sexual, emotional, psychological, and financial abuse, as well as fraud and neglect of a disabled individual.
The Special Victims Unit works in collaboration with the Disabled Persons Protection Commission (DPPC), as well as the Department of Mental Health (DMH), Department of Mental Retardation (DMR), Massachusetts Rehabilitation Commission (MRC), and various local and state police agencies. This important link between law enforcement and human service agencies ensures the protection, treatment, and continuity of care for persons with disabilities who are victims of a crime.
If you suspect abuse, contact your local police department and the Disabled Persons Protection Commission at 1-800-426-9009. Your prompt reporting provides us with the tools to prosecute and protect. It is imperative to hold offenders accountable, as well as ensure that persons remain free from abuse.
Find extensive resources for victims of these crimes on our RESOURCES page.