Combating Violence Against Women and Children
"I will stand up for those women and children who are unable to stand up for themselves." — Spencer Merriweather, District Attorney
Domestic and sexual violence and child abuse continue to pose serious problems for our community. Prosecutors are essential in bringing these offenders to justice. Last year, Spencer Merriweather created a Special Victims Team, consisting of senior attorneys dedicated to the prosecution of these especially complex crimes.
Domestic violence, in particular, is among the most challenging and complex areas of prosecution in our courts. Mecklenburg prosecutors were among the first in the state to employ evidence-based, domestic violence prosecutions. The prosecutors in Spencer’s office rely on alternative evidence to prove the guilt of the defendant, when the domestic violence survivor is too fearful of her batterer to testify in court.
Spencer has dedicated much of his career to the prosecution of sexual assault. He recognizes both the importance of prosecuting sexual violence aggressively and the necessity of fostering a culture where women feel empowered to report these crimes. Spencer will continue to devote increased time and energy to swift and effective prosecution of sexual offenders.
Spencer will make sure the District Attorney’s Office actively engages with community stakeholders as part of a local Sexual Assault Response Team (SART) designed to provide more support for sexual assault survivors and hold assailants accountable. Similarly, child abuse and neglect crimes demand that prosecutors commit maximum effort in support of the most vulnerable of victims. Under his leadership, prosecutors will continue to work with community and law enforcement partners to make certain those who commit these crimes are aggressively prosecuted. And that their young victims are nurtured and protected—and not retraumatized—by our court system.
Establishing Family Justice Center
Survivors of sexual assault, child violence and domestic violence often have to trek to various locations across the county to have their health and safety needs fulfilled. This creates undue hardship on women and children, who have already suffered trauma. As District Attorney, Spencer has championed the creation of a Family Justice Center in Mecklenburg County, so these services can be offered to victims and their families under one roof.
There are more than 100 centers throughout the country, including in Greensboro and Asheville. As the most populous county in the state, we are long overdue for offering such collaborative services here in Mecklenburg County. A Family Justice Center can provide an integration point for advocates, counselors, health professionals, law enforcement, and others. To date, a steering committee, on which Spencer serves, will soon begin strategic planning for such a center, with a goal of serving our citizens within a couple of years.