Victims' services offers assistance - WALB.com, Albany News, Weather, Sports

Victims' services offers assistance

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June 30, 2005

Thomasville-- A victim who shared her story with WALB Wednesday also shared her thanks for Victims' Services.

Three years ago when she was 14, Jacqueline Demoga began a journey no one should have to make. "I'm still having to go through therapy, and I'm probably going to have to go through therapy my whole life," she says.

Demoga began a journey of healing. She had been sexually abused by Roderick Suber, a former youth minister who was sentenced on Friday to four years in prison for statutory rape. "Anything you could possibly do with somebody that you're supposed to do when you're married, he did to me," says Demoga.

After Suber's arrest, a special organization helped prepare Demoga for the road ahead. Victims Services, an elite branch of the district attorney's office came to her aid. "It's a wonderful service. It's our ability to assist them in knowing the court proceedings, and what's going to happen on their case. And also, we prepare them for court if they have to go to court," says Assistant District Attorney, Jim Hardy.

The office also provides victims with money for a variety of medical bills, the most difficult, but often the most necessary service. "They need to be able to confide in a counselor and get over their grief or get over their trauma," says Hardy.

Victims services is free to people who need it. But it's not paid for by the state. "There's an add-on percent on all fines. Plus, we have to get grants from the criminal justice coordinating council and other agencies," says Hardy.

Those agencies understand victims' plight, and the second chance they need. "They must be given an opportunity to get back to where they were before, if at all possible," says Hardy. "You need to tell. It's not worth ruining your teenage life. It's not worth ruining your whole life," adds Demoga.

Those lives are portrayed through the services' victim impact statement that a judge uses during sentencing. The service also helps victims understand the resolution of a case. And in a worst case scenario, it will partially pay the funeral expenses of a victim.

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