New Philadelphia, Ohio (WJER)- New Philadelphia’s law director says his office will soon be more equipped to help crime victims navigate the legal process.
Marvin Fete says the city has received a $46,000 grant through the Ohio Attorney General’s Office to create a victim advocate position within the New Philadelphia Prosecutor’s Office.
Fete says the city was originally denied the grant before the state took a closer look and found the municipal court to be handling more violent crimes than Tuscarawas County Common Pleas Court.
“The Ohio Attorney General’s Office, who provides this grant, came down and talked to us because they were surprised that a municipal court would need a victims advocate. When they saw that our caseload with regard to criminal cases with victims in it is actually about four times what the county is, they said you guys need to reapply for this,” he explains.
Last year, the New Philadelphia Municipal Court handled over 450 criminal cases that involved victims of serious crimes.
Fete says the victim advocate will guide victims, making sure their rights are protected and helping them understand what’s happening.
“They’re already in a bad situation to begin with, and then they come into a court proceeding, which is completely foreign to them. Now they’re going to have somebody in their corner that’s going to be looking out for them, that’s gonna make sure that they get the help that’s necessary to get them through this process,” he says.
Fete says having someone dedicated to helping victims means specialized care for each case, which he says could be life-saving.
“Victims are always first and foremost in our minds in the prosecutor’s office, but we’re also charged with doing justice. We’re not always ideally equipped to play the role of prosecutor and victims advocate. This person will work out of office and will be directly linked in with victims and victim resources,” he says.
Fete says the grant is technically good for one year, although the city can reapply annually for the funding. He expects to renew the grant for years to come and create a permanent position.
RYAN PASTIRCAK, WJER