Please ensure Javascript is enabled for purposes of website accessibility

Special Victims Unit (SVU)

SVU is a highly specialized unit comprised of prosecutors, victim witness specialists, and investigators, each committed to serve the 18th JD’s most vulnerable populations. Cases include:

  • Sexual assault on children
  • Child abuse resulting in serious bodily injury or death
  • Adult sexual assault
  • Internet facilitated crimes, including luring and possession of child pornography
  • Intimate crimes against individuals who are at-risk, have intellectual deficit or other disabilities

STAFFING

The SVU team is made of one Chief Deputy District Attorney, six Deputy District Attorneys, two victim-witness specialists, and two investigators.

FACTS

SVU prosecutors and specialists work to obtain justice for victims and the community through numerous prosecution tools, including conducting numerous jury trials. SVU trials are characteristically difficult, typically last one week, and involve expert witnesses.

STATISTICS

Approximately 247 district court cases were filed between Arapahoe and Douglas Counties in 2015. There were approximately 19 felony SVU trials in 2015.

COMMITTEES AND TASK FORCES: SVU IS IN THE COMMUNITY

Successful prosecution and commitment to victims of SVU crimes requires a multidisciplinary approach. SVU prosecutors and specialists participate in a range of multi-agency task forces and committees with law enforcement and other partner professionals. This level and breadth of participation is unprecedented in the 18th JD.

  • The SVU Chief Deputy is a member of the Statewide Child Fatality Review Team, which reviews all child deaths in the state and makes prevention recommendations, and is a member of the local Child Fatality Review Team.
  • SVU lawyers attend forensic interviews and participate in the interview process for children who are sexually or physically assaulted. This is the child’s first involvement with law enforcement to disclose the abuse in a special forensic interview.
  • SVU works with The Kempe Center on cases involving children and infants suffering from serious bodily injury. The medical staff, social workers and SVU collaborate in order to ensure the investigation is complete.
  • SVU participates in multidisciplinary team reviews at DHS on cases of alleged child abuse and neglect.
  • SVU participates in regular meeting with the Sex Offender Probation Unit.
  • SVU prepares and conducts multiple presentations at area schools on topics, such as internet safety and abuse prevention programs.
  • SVU provides training on sexual assault prosecutions through the Colorado District Attorney Council.
  • SVU lawyers and investigators solunteer with the Colorado Child’s Alliance to train forensic interviewers from around the state.
  • Recognizing the need for a multidisciplinary approach to better understand and prosecute sexual assault cases, the DA George Brauchler authorized the hiring of a part-time SART Coordinator. SART is a multidisciplinary team composed of law enforcement, Sexual Assault Nurse Examiners (SANEs), advocates, military partners, DHS, the DA’s Office, and other nonprofit partners. The SART meets monthly in order to conduct case reviews, offer trainings, and develop best practices for all groups who interact with victims of sexual assault. The SART seeks to be victim-centered and offender-focused, always striving to provide the best care for the victim. By creating a collaborative team, communication has been enhanced and different parts of the system are working more closely than ever on sexual assault cases in the 18th
  • Our office is fortunate to have Pella, our Courthouse Dog, who came to us through the PAWS program. Pella provides much-needed emotional support to victims and witnesses, especially children. Pella is fully trained and has a huge impact on and provides emotional support to everyone she works with. We have two experienced handlers in our office who are available to attend trials, meetings, forensic interviews and the like whenever and wherever Pella is needed.
  • SVU works with the Arapahoe County Coroner/Medical Examiner at the Colorado Department of Public Health regarding child death investigations and the uses of doll re-enactments and the sudden unexplained infant death investigation form.
  • SVU developed the Real-Life Internet Safety for Kids (RISK) Program. A pro-active approach to issues of youth and technology, the RISK program is offered to middle schools and high schools throughout the District to teach kids and parents about safety online, including the potential consequences of cyber-bullying and sexting.
  • SVU works with local law enforcement to create programs to handle “sexting”.

SIGNIFICANT CASES

People v. Edward Dockery: The defendant sexually and physically abused his girlfriend over a period of months as part of on-going domestic violence abuse. He was found guilty of five counts of Sexual Assault as a Crime of Violence and was sentenced to 48 years to life in the Department of Corrections.

 

People v. Scot Copher: The defendant sexually assaulted his step-son from ages 5-6. The child reported the abuse at age 16, and the defendant was arrested pending trial. While incarcerated, the defendant solicited another inmate to kill the child so as to eliminate the primary witness against him. The defendant was convicted of both Sexual Assault on a Child – Pattern of Abuse, and Solicitation for First Degree Murder, and is serving a sentence of 40 years to life in the Department of Corrections.

 

People v. Dustin Weber: A convicted sex offender, the defendant was on bond for exposing himself to a school bus full of children when he found his next victim. Although he was court-ordered not to have any contact with children, he went to a Chucky Cheese restaurant to spend time with his own daughter. While there, he befriended a father and his 3 year-old daughter. When hidden from view in a play-tube area, the defendant sexually assaulted the 3 year old. He was convicted by a jury and sentenced to 18 years-to-life in the Department of Corrections.

 

People v. Guanming Yin: The defendant immigrated to the U.S. and opened a massage therapy and reflexology business. For years, he provided full massage services even though he was not licensed to do so. During massages of his female clients, the defendant would touch the women sexually and without their consent. Nine victims came forward, describing very similar assaults. The defendant pleaded guilty and was sentenced to 48 months in the county jail followed by sex offender probation. He will almost certainly be deported upon completion of his jail sentence.

 

People v. Jones: The defendant was charged with multiple counts of possession of child pornography, which is technically called “Sexual Exploitation of Children”. He was convicted at trial on all counts. The defendant was already a convicted sex offender for a sexual assault he perpetrated on a young boy. Because of the prior conviction, he was adjudged a habitual sex offender against children and sentenced to 18 years in the Department of Corrections for sexual exploitation.

 

People v. Cochran: The defendant pleded guilty to 2nd Degree Assault – Serious Bodily Injury and Assault against an At Risk Adult for a violent assault committed against his parents. The defendant’s father suffered at least 11 broken bones in his face and his mother suffered from a rib fracture as well as a severely bruised face. He was sentenced to 15 years in the Department of Corrections.

 

People v. Hoffman: The defendant sexually assaulted a 19 year old woman while she was sleeping after a party they both attended. He had been convicted of Sexual Assault in the past for similar conduct. The defendant pled guilty to a felony sex assault as well as 2nd Degree Assault and was sentenced to 16 years in the Department of Corrections.

 

People v. Saldarriaga: Theefendant sexually assaulted a 14 year old girl he met online. He pleded guilty to Sex Assault on a Child and was sentenced to 2 years-to-life in Department of Corrections.