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As a new strain of coronavirus (COVID-19) swept through the world in 2020, preparedness plans, masking policies and more public policy changed just as quickly. WVXU has covered the pandemic's impact on the Tri-State from the very beginning, when on March 3, 2020, Ohio Gov. Mike DeWine barred spectators from attending the Arnold Sports Festival in Columbus over concerns about the virus, even though Ohio had yet to confirm a single case of COVID-19.

Hamilton Co. Prosecutor Launches New Domestic Violence Unit As Cases Go Further Under The Radar

joe deters
Courtesy of the Prosecutor's Office
Hamilton County Prosecutor Joe Deters and Assistant Prosecuting Attorney Stacey DeGraffenreid.

Hamilton County's prosecutor is launching a Crimes of Violence Against Women and Children unit.In early April, Ohio Governor Mike DeWine reported a 50% drop in child abuse and neglect cases since the stay-at-home order was issued on March 22. "I think we can fairly state that that's not because child abuse is down," he said during a press conference. "It is because we don't have enough eyes on these children."

Since then he has announced students will continue distance learning as school buildings remain closed for the rest of the school year.

Hamilton County Assistant Prosecutor Stacey DeGraffenreid will lead the local review and screening of criminal cases against women, children and domestic partners.

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention says about one in four women have experienced sexual or physical violence from an intimate partner during their lifetime.

Until DeWine announces how businesses will begin to reopen, some adult victims will remain limited in their interactions with people who could possibly help them.

"These stay-at-home orders make it more dangerous than ever for women, children and domestic partners in abusive situations," Prosecutor Joe Deters says. He says an assistant prosecutor and victim advocate will be assigned to work a case to avoid revictimization, which can occur from repeatedly sharing a traumatic experience.

Prosecutors in the unit will be available 24/7 to help law enforcement during the investigation phase of cases.

State and local officials are urging victims and witnesses of abuse to report by calling 855-OH-CHILD (642-4453); calling or texting 911; or texting Women Helping Women at 513-381-5610.