Manhattan District Attorney Cyrus R. Vance, Jr., today announced the formation of the Special Victims Bureau, which will coordinate and expand upon the work of the Sex Crimes Unit, the Elder Abuse Unit, and the Family Violence and Child Abuse Bureau, the last of which will be split into the Domestic Violence Unit and the Child Abuse Unit to more clearly delineate their separate functions. District Attorney Vance appointed Assistant District Attorney Audrey Moore as Chief of the Special Victims Bureau. ADA Moore currently serves as co-Chief of the Family Violence and Child Abuse Bureau, and will continue to act as Chief of the Domestic Violence Unit.

“The cases that will fall under the purview of the Special Victims Bureau are highly sensitive and involve some of our most vulnerable victims,” said District Attorney Vance. “The consolidation of our resources in one bureau will ensure that the Office better supports the victims whose lives are often upended due to the nature of these types of crimes. Assistant District Attorney Moore has dedicated her entire career to serving these victims, and I am pleased that she will be overseeing this important new department.”

District Attorney Vance also announced his commitment to constructing a Special Victims Center within the District Attorney’s Office’s 80 Centre Street facilities. This center will co-locate the leadership of the Special Victims Bureau, the leadership of the individual Units, and the ADAs assigned to prosecute Child Abuse cases. In addition to having a dedicated space that will cater to the needs of victims, the center will have interview rooms and counseling services provided by the Witness Aid Services Unit. The Special Victims Center will also work with partners in social services and victim advocacy group to bring order and stability to victims’ lives.

Each unit within the Special Victims Bureau will retain its unique and highly specialized focus, while increasing the ability to share information, coordinate training, access investigative resources, and match victims with the appropriate counseling and social services. Each unit will similarly retain the capacity to investigate matters referred to it, with the assistance of specially designated Assistant District Attorneys and investigators. Additionally, the collaboration of the various disciplines within the Special Victims Bureau will enable the District Attorney’s Office to investigate and prosecute crimes that transcend traditional categories, such as human trafficking and child pornography.

The Special Victims Bureau will also pursue legislative reform. One its top legislative priorities will be to boost the ability of prosecutors to adequately charge domestic violence crimes through the designation of Aggravated Domestic Violence, a class E felony. This would be applied to defendants who commit two or more domestic violence misdemeanors within a five-year period. Domestic violence misdemeanors are the most common matters in the District Attorney's Office's Domestic Violence unit; from 2004 to 2009 in New York County alone, 622 individuals were convicted of two or more domestic violence offenses. Of those 622 defendants, 221 - or 36 percent - had at least one case with a felony-level assault charge.