On April 18, 2019, Multnomah County District Attorney Rod Underhill, Chief Deputy District Attorney John Casalino and Deputy Districts Attorney Amanda Nadell and Brendan Stabeno along with MCDA staff support specialist Samantha Markowitz-Wright all participated in an event to raise local awareness of National Child Abuse Prevention Month.
“We join our system partners in recognizing National Child Abuse Prevention Month and supporting the work our community is doing to keep children safe from abuse and neglect,” District Attorney Underhill said. “When a child is harmed, there is a dedicated response to ensuring that a person harmed receives immediate care and that the individual responsible for that abuse or neglect is held accountable.”
The event, which was held in Northeast Portland, was aimed at raising money to support CARE Northwest, Multnomah County’s child abuse assessment center.
“For 13 years, I’ve prosecuted cases alongside the people of CARES Northwest where we come into contact with children who have beaten, burned, broken, sexually assaulted, and murdered,” CDDA Casalino said. “You would think that this work is consumed with despair but it’s actually work that is filled with hope because for 13 years, I’ve been inspired and humbled by the work that CARES Northwest does for the kids of our county, Washington County and quite frankly, for the state.”
CARES Northwest is a community-based medical program for the assessment, treatment and prevention of child abuse. The organization is one of the largest child abuse assessment centers in the nation and serves more than 5,000 children annually.
During National Child Abuse Prevention Month, the Multnomah County District Attorney’s Office has participated in various events to highlight the work of the Multnomah County Multi-Disciplinary Child Abuse Team, also known as “MDT.”
CDDA Casalino manages the Multnomah County Multi-Disciplinary Child Abuse Team (MDT) and works with a team of six other individuals to include four deputy district attorneys, two support staff specialists, one victim advocate and one district attorney investigator.
“To give you an idea of the scope of the tremendous challenges we face, data from 2017 shows, that in our state there were over 80,000 reports of child abuse and neglect,” CDDA Casalino said. “Let that sink in. Because it’s a stat, and behind every stat is a child.”
“My job is to provide emotional support to the victims and their families. As victim advocates, we ensure their rights as crime victims are explained and that at every critical stage, they are aware and informed of what’s happening within the criminal justice system. We also offer them community-based resources to provide ongoing care,” said MDT Victim Advocate Malai Bruni.
The Multnomah County MDT is frequently called upon to conduct training for law enforcement, schools and non-profits due to their expertise with child abuse and neglect matters.
In November 1989, then District Attorney Michael Schrunk convened a policy group composed of Children’s Services Division, Portland Police Bureau, Multnomah County Sheriff’s Office, Juvenile Court, Gresham Police Department, CARES NW, local hospitals, area schools, and the Multnomah County Health Division to develop interim protocols for the operation of the Team.
In February 1990, the group completed the written protocols, and in March, 1990, the District Attorney appointed Chief Deputy Helen Smith Chairperson of the Multidisciplinary Child Abuse Team (MDT) and the first formal meeting was held.
“With justice there is healing,” Casalino said. “Justice is part of a child’s cure.”
To learn more about CARES Northwest, please click here.
Contact: Brent Weisberg, Communications Director