What We Do
The Dr. Bill Lewis Center for Children offers a non-threatening, child-friendly location where expert forensic interviews of victims of alleged child abuse take place.
The child, along with his/her parents or guardian, is referred to the center by police, Child Protective Services, medical personnel, or another reporting agency. The child and accompanying adults are welcomed by center staff members, who are available 24/7. The waiting room has colorful art on the doors and walls, plus books and toys for children to play with while the adult(s) complete forms.
A specially-trained interviewer meets with the child and, after taking the child to the interview room, begins the session. Other members of the multi-disciplinary team are seated in another room, wearing headsets. They can feed questions to the face-to-face interviewer while watching and listening to the interview on closed circuit TV.
Team members, who are also trained in the process, represent: the Division of Child Services; the Prosecuting Attorney's Office; law enforcement; Victim's Assistance; and the Fort Wayne Sexual Assault Treatment Center. Each has an investigative or interventional role, and the process enables team members to have their varied, agency-specific concerns addressed.
The interview is videotaped, after which the team members meet to decide the best case management plans for the child and if forensic medical evaluation is required. The Lewis Center works closely with the Fort Wayne Sexual Assault Treatment Center and area hospitals to ensure forensic medical evidence is obtained accurately and as promptly as possible.
The alleged victim and his/her family have immediate access to advocates who explain the entire process to them and address the family's needs and concerns and refer them to necessary health and legal resources.
The videotaped forensic interview assists the Prosecutor's Office in making a decision concerning whether or not the child has been the victim of sexual abuse and whether criminal charges can and should be filed.
The forensic interview process decreases the number of times a child is required to discuss the abuse during investigation, thereby preventing re-victimization. It also helps ensure a coordinated response by giving everyone the opportunity to hear the same answers to the same question at the same time.