Washington County Prosecuting Attorney John Rupp has been named the Robert G. Wilkins Child Advocate of the Year by the Children’s Advocacy Center.
He was honored Feb. 23 at Comtrea’s Children’s Advocacy Center’s seventh annual sweetheart dinner/dance in Washington. More than 300 people attended and $18,000 was raised for the center.
Rupp, a founding board member of the Children’s Advocacy Center, said he has received other awards but this one means a lot to him. He’s very honored to receive it.
Rupp is proud of the program in place at Washington County. A grant a few years ago has allowed him to hire a full-time trained investigator for child abuse investigations.
His office works with different agencies and the Children’s Advocacy Center on child abuse cases. He said the multidisciplinary task force has made a phenomenal difference in how they investigate child crimes and provide services for victims and their families.
He said his investigators, past and present, have worked to break serious abuse cases such as the pending cases against Bobby Lawson and Greg Parsons.
Tammy Steward, attorney for the 24th Judicial Circuit Juvenile Office, nominated Rupp.
“There is no case too small or too large for Mr. Rupp to prosecute,” Steward wrote in her nomination letter.
Rupp has prosecuted cases of educational neglect, child endangerment due to filthy houses or bruising, and many child sex abuse cases.
She said child sex abuse cases are difficult to prosecute because there is only the child’s word.
“Mr. Rupp’s dedication is shown by his willingness to uphold the law through prosecution,” she said. “John Rupp has worked tirelessly for the children of his county who have been abused.
“He meets with the victim/witness after school, on weekends or after basketball practice. Why? Because a child needs to have a sense of normalcy and routine especially if they have to come into his office to talk about the worst days of their young lives.”
The Children’s Advocacy Center is located in DeSoto and Sullivan. A smaller office will soon be opening in Farmington.
Director Connilee Boehne said the center is a not-for-profit agency that promotes the utilization of multidisciplinary teams when investigating child abuse/neglect.
She added the Center depends on local fundraisers like the sweetheart dance to ensure that their budget requirements are met.
That night they recognized several for their accomplishments. For the third year in a row, Det. Larry Cook of the Pacific Police Department received the Golden Team Award for providing items that brought in the most money at the silent auction. His team raised $3,700 in donations.
The Franklin County Sheriff’s Office received second place in the Fundraising Challenge, bringing in more than $3,200 in donations. The additional teams who contributed to the donations were Franklin County Prosecuting Attorney’s Office, Franklin County Children’s Division, Franklin County Juvenile Office, Washington Police Department, Sullivan Police Department, Jefferson County Sheriff’s Office, and Team Washington County.
“We are so blessed to be able to work with such a wonderful group of team members.” Boehne said. “They go above and beyond not only in the work they do on a daily basis, but in the support they provide us with as well.”
The center also presented the “Career Excellence Award” to JoAnn Bayless, who retired from the 42nd Circuit Juvenile Office in 2008, after more than 20 years of service protecting and serving children.
Teresa Ressel is a reporter for the Daily Journal and can be reached at 573-431-2010, ext. 179 or at firstname.lastname@example.org.