Metro-East News

Rape prosecutors offering national training in St. Clair County

St. Clair County will be the host of a training session for prosecutors across the country in handling sexual assault and domestic violence cases.

The five-day training will be held in Fairview Heights from Nov. 2 through Nov. 6.

“Improving outcomes for victims of sexual assault is a national challenge, but there is no reason we can’t be on the cutting edge of this effort right here in St. Clair County,” said State’s Attorney Brendan Kelly, board member of the National District Attorneys Association. “This is an opportunity prosecutors need to take advantage of here in Southern Illinois.”

Kelly pushed to get the training here after the BND series “Violation of Trust” revealed that only 18 percent of sex crimes reported to police were charged by St. Clair County prosecutors. In the southernmost Illinois counties, that rate is about 30 percent overall.

“I worked hard to get this training here because of my concern about Southern Illinois prosecution rates in your story,” Kelly said.

I worked hard to get this training here because of my concern about Southern Illinois prosecution rates.

Brendan Kelly, St. Clair County state’s attorney

Matt Jones, associate director at the State’s Attorney Appellate Prosecutor’s Office, said Illinois was the first to apply for the grant, and there was some desire to do something in collaboration with Missouri. This training appeared to be a good fit.

The BND series pointed out the less-than-stellar record in dealing with victims of sexual assault by some prosecutors and former prosecutors, Jones said.

“So it was decided that it was going to be done in the metro-east,” Jones said.

For every 100 sexual assaults in this country, 13 are reported to police, Kelly noted.

The training will be held at the Four Points by Sheraton at 319 Fountains Parkway in Fairview Heights beginning on Nov. 2 at 8 a.m. and continues until Nov. 6 at 11:15 a.m.

Veteran prosecutors training in strategic trial advocacy methodology in these types of cases will be offered, Kelly said. Using fundamental topics, these trainers will give trial techniques designed to help prosecutors meet defense challenges, complex case theories and trial presentation modes.

Topics for the training include case analysis, developing themes for opening statements during trial, DNA, ethical issues and professional responsibility, direct examination, introduction to communication theory, the visual trial, syndromes and defenses, approach-point cross-examination and giving persuasive closing arguments.

This specific training may provide more confidence to prosecutors to get these cases into court, Jones said, because it will increase the likelihood of a win.

The National District Attorneys Association will present the training developed to ensure that prosecutors working on behalf of victims while facing budgetary challenges can receive quality training focused on handling all aspects of sexual assault and domestic violence cases.

There will not be a tuition charge for the training that is funded by the U.S. Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women. The costs will include airfare or round-trip mileage, lodging and incidental ground expenses totaling no more than $25. Course attendees will receive 20 hours of continuing legal education credits, including one hour of ethics.

There is a faculty of 10. Forty spots are available for prosecutors. Interested prosecutors can apply at www.ndaa.org.

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