600 Child Abuse Cases Investigated Yearly

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MURFREESBORO — Every month the Rutherford County District Attorney’s Office receives 40-50 serious child abuse referrals, including child sexual abuse and extreme physical abuse cases.

General William C. Whitesell, Jr. and the District Attorney’s Office work child abuse cases as part of a multidisciplinary team with the Child Advocacy Center, Department of Children’s Services, mental health counselors from the Guidance Center, law enforcement detectives from Murfreesboro Police Department, Smyrna Police Department, LaVergne Police Department, and the Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office.

In the last ten years, General Whitesell and the Child Protective Investigative Team have worked over 6,000 child abuse cases.

On Monday, November 22, General William C. Whitesell, Jr. was recognized by the Tennessee Chapter of Children’s Advocacy Centers at the Connecting for Children’s Justice Conference in Nashville for dedicating his career to prosecuting child abuse perpetrators to the fullest extent of the law.  Whitesell was presented with the State of Tennessee Child Protective Investigative Team Leadership Award.

This award is given to a member of a Child Protective Investigative Team that has demonstrated leadership, exemplifies the collaborative spirit, advocates for the team approach to child abuse investigations, and has dedicated their career to protecting children.

The following people nominated General Whitesell for this prestigious award:  Murfreesboro Police Chief Glenn Chrisman, Rutherford County Sheriff’s Office Deputy Chief of Law Enforcement Virgil M. Gammon, Director of Murfreesboro City Schools Dr. Linda Arms Gilbert, Assistant District Attorney General David Puckett, Child Advocacy Center Director Sharon De Boer and Forensic Interviewer LaToya Nelson and Family Services Coordinator Jennifer Gamble.

Bonnie Beneke, the Executive Director of the Tennessee Chapter of Children’s Advocacy Centers, presented the award to General Whitesell.  Beneke stated the following information when she presented the award:

“Over the last 10 years, General Whitesell has worked tirelessly to advocate on behalf of child abuse victims and prosecute offenders to the fullest extent of the law.  Whitesell has been the driving force in establishing Child Advocacy Centers in Rutherford and Cannon Counties, the CPIT Teams in Rutherford and Cannon Counties, CPIT Management Team, and in getting all the agencies to work together as a team and functioning effectively.  Whitesell’s passion about child abuse victims is contagious.  Every person in our community from law enforcement to DCS to the Child Advocacy Center Board of Directors to community leaders all share his passion and his vision for building a collaborative multidisciplinary approach to responding to child abuse cases.”

Beneke noted a few of the highlights of Whitesell’s accomplishments:

• Aggressively prosecutes child abuse, child sexual abuse, and child homicide offenders.

• Serves on the Rutherford County and Cannon County CPIT Teams and supervises the ADA’s that serve on the Rutherford and Cannon County CPIT Teams.

• Driving force behind the development of the Child Advocacy Center of Rutherford County and the Cannon County Child Advocacy Center and currently serves as the President of the Board of Directors and as a member of the Nominating Committee to recruit dedicated board members.

• Led the development of the Rutherford County Child Abuse Investigative Protocol in collaboration with other members of the CPIT Management Team.

• Speaks to local newspapers, radio stations, and to community groups about child abuse, the CPIT Team, and the Child Advocacy Center.

• Assisted in the development of new fundraising events — such as the Rubber Duck Derby, the Duck Derby Bash, the Rutherford County Andrea Walks, and the Cannon County Andrea Walks—to raise funds to expand Child Advocacy Center program services.

Beneke also stated, “The most impressive thing about General Whitesell is that he is a humble servant leader who does not need or desire recognition for his tireless work on behalf of child abuse victims.  The work he does is often behind the scenes in ways that he receives no public recognition for — such as washing ducks in the CAC garage and dumping ducks in the Stones River for the Rubber Duck Derby, stuffing envelopes on a Saturday morning for the CAC year end fundraising campaign, and gently pressuring the supervisors in the CPIT Management Team meeting to have their employees attend CPIT every month.

"General Whitesell is a strong leader, he is well respected in our community, and he has a way of getting everyone to understand how important it is for our entire community to work together to protect children and hold perpetrators accountable for their crimes.  More importantly he has done all of this without bringing any recognition to himself because it has never been about him.  It has always been about the children!”
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