Thursday, April 7, 2016
Crimes Against Children Prosecutor Karen Schmauss honored for her work
Victim Advocate Iris Robertson was also honored for her work with at-risk youth in the Human Trafficking Unit as well as her day-to-day advocacy for children who have been victimized. As an advocate, she is responsible for explaining to victims how the criminal justice system works and providing the much-needed comfort in such a difficult time. Robertson has also participated in events such as Shop with a Cop and helped coordinate multiple donation drives for families and children in need.
The annual event, hosted by Children’s Network, is held in April as a kick-off for Child Abuse Prevention Awareness Month.
Schmauss is a 31-year veteran prosecutor assigned to the West Valley Division Major Crimes Against Children Unit, who specializes in the prosecution of felony crimes against children.
“Karen is a fierce advocate when it comes to protecting child abuse victims and their families,” said Chief Deputy District Attorney Bruce Brown, who oversees the West Valley Division. “She gives them hope and keeps them strong throughout the court process.”
A recent thank-you note to DDA Schmauss from the mother of a 13-year-old child molest victim after a guilty verdict reads:
We just told [Victim]. We told him the jury believed him. He smiled and said, ‘They did?’ He paused and thought for a few seconds and then asked if we can make sure you have our phone number so you can tell us if they ever let [defendant] out. I told him he never has to worry about that because he will never get out and the court made sure of it. He said with the biggest smile ‘Really mom, oh good!’ The relief and happiness that came from his smile was worth every minute we spent in that courtroom. Karen this is what I live for! To see my kids happy! Thank you so much for all that you have done. Because of you my kids can be at peace and we can now move forward with our lives.
Handling child abuse cases requires specialized training both in the law and in dealing with the sensitive and emotional issues involved. DDA Schmauss has taken it upon herself to obtain this specialized training and skill, and has become a role model for other prosecutors.
Chief DDA Brown added that DDA Schmauss recognizes that effectively prosecuting child abuse cases requires a team approach. She has developed strong working relationships with the County’s entire multi-disciplinary team and she works closely with forensic pediatricians and law enforcement investigators to always prepare the best possible case for court.
Examples of significant cases handled by DDA Schmauss in the past two years include:
People v. Lucero, FWV1301177 – murder. A 2-year-old was left in care of mother’s boyfriend, the defendant. She left him at 7 p.m. and defendant called at midnight saying the victim was unconscious. The victim died of blunt force head injury and injuries to internal organs. Defendant claimed the mother caused the injuries. Trial lasted six weeks. Defendant was convicted of murder. Sentence: 25 years-life in prison.
People v. Gutierrez, FWV1301138 – child molestation. Defendant, age 22, was a friend of the family. Two brothers, ages 10 & 13, said defendant sodomized & orally copulated them for several years. Trial took six weeks. Defense argued that the boys made it up. Defendant was convicted. Sentence: 145 years to life in prison.
People v. Bland, FWV1400392 – child molestation. A cheerleading coach sexually assaulted ten girls on his cheerleading squad. Acts ranged from groping to full intercourse. He pled guilty to 18 years in prison.
People v. Gomez, FWV1302821 – child molestation. Defendant had sex with a 5-year-old child and videotaped the acts with an iPhone. Defendant pled guilty. Sentence: 50 years prison.
People v. Hardy, FWV1202573 – kidnap, rape, child molestation, human trafficking. The defendant kidnapped a 16-year-old girl, forcibly raped and orally copulated her, then sold her to another man. Defendant pled guilty. Sentence: 19 years prison.
Victim Advocate Iris Robertson received her Award at this morning's 18th Annual Shine a Light on Child Abuse Awards Breakfast