15 new Fairfax Co. attorneys will focus solely on domestic violence, crime against children

Fairfax County, Virginia, is launching two new investigative units that will focus solely on domestic violence and crimes against kids.

The Commonwealth’s Attorney for Fairfax County, Steve Descano, told WTOP he has long wanted to focus on these two crimes.

“We want to have prosecutors who do nothing but this, because there is a lot of nuance to handling these types of crimes as effectively as possible,” he said of the 15 new attorneys who will staff the units.

The attorneys will be trained to work with victims of trauma, he said.

“So having individuals who are trained to help these victims with their unique trauma is very, very important. Overall, this is a best practice. And what it’s going to result in is better case outcomes, not only at trial, but also better resolution for these victims themselves,” Descano said.

The county’s Board of Supervisors, which Descano said met his appeal for additional positions, is funding the new roles.

“We have worked very hard over the last year with the Board of Supervisors to address what is the chronic shortfall in funding for prosecutors’ offices, not only in the county, but really statewide. And I’m really proud that the Board of Supervisors stepped up [as] they saw the need,” he said.

While the creation of the units is not in response to an uptick in these types of violence, Descano said, both have likely been underreported and specialized attorneys need to be in place to protect vulnerable residents.

“A lot of these crimes were hard to track because first responders and first reporters were not necessarily coming into contact with these individuals to notice the signs. But we are well aware of what happens out in our community. And we know that these types of crimes, unfortunately, they’re still happening,” he said.

Megan Cloherty

WTOP Investigative Reporter Megan Cloherty primarily covers breaking news, crime and courts.

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