HANCOCK COUNTY, Ind. (WISH) — Hancock County is taking new steps to better protect women and children who may have been victims of crime.
Officials have hired a new deputy prosecutor who will work on some of the most difficult cases in Hancock County — domestic violence, sex crimes against women and some sex crimes against children.
Prosecutor Brent Eaton told 24-Hour News 8 the county needed someone focused exclusively on these types of cases, because they are often so hard to prosecute. Eaton said there has not been a rape conviction in Hancock County since 2006.
“That’s something that we wanted to improve on, we wanted to do better. I think it’s highly unlikely that in the last decade that crime has never occured in our county. It seems more likely that we could do a better job of trying to prosecute,” said Eaton.
Eaton brought on Deputy Prosecutor Georgeanna Teipen at the beginning of October. Teipen said she will help establish a team to work with law enforcement, and develop a protocol for any investigation into these types of crimes. The team will work to make sure all aspects of an investigation are handled properly and consistently from the start. The clear communication and standard protocol will give Teipen a stronger case in court, according to prosecutors.
“We’re really working hard to improve the relationship with law enforcement in these kind of cases and give really good, solid advice and guidance and I think that really positive relationship is going to help the community has a whole,” said Eaton.
Teipen said having a dedicated person to build a relationship with the victims, will help them get through the often painful legal process.
“It’s hard for them to have to come to court. It’s hard for them to have to face people that have hurt them, that they love, that they have feelings for. That’s a very different crime than being burglarized, or having a theft from a Wal-Mart. It’s a whole different situation,” said Teipen.
She said sometimes it’s hard for jurors to understand why a person may stay in an abusive relationship, or why children sometimes don’t tell anyone about abuse. Tepien says she’ll communicate to jurors the reality of domestic violence, while helping the victims through the legal process.
“What distinguishes these cases, in my opinion, is the ability to deal with people — with victims,” said Teipen, “You’ve got tangible, real victims of things. Children, that’s a whole different aspect, but it’s the same type of victimization. If it’s domestic cases, you’re dealing with some very difficult victims. Because they’ve got a very intense personal relationship with the person that’s hurt them. It’s the same situation with most of the children too. Just different types of relationships. I think, I’m passionate about it because I understand that, and I can talk to these victims in such a way that it means something to them. It helps them, you know, and it helps us prosecute the cases more effectively,” said Teipen.
Teipen has been doing this type of work since 2007. She’s worked on crimes against women and children in Marion, Shelby and Hendricks County. The Prosecutor’s Office said it received a grant to pay for the new role.