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In his 20 years as a law enforcement officer, Alexandria police Chief Donald Sullivan said he had never been so saddened and angered by the judicial process than on July 9. That day, nearly two dozen educators, school counselors and psychologists stood up for a child sex offender with the teenage victim seated feet away in a Rockingham County courtroom.
The sentencing of former school counselor Kristie Torbick made Sullivan furious as he thought about the sexual assault victims who might be silenced in the aftermath of the courtroom display.
“As professionals, we should be tearing down barriers, not putting them up,” Sullivan told the Monitor. “I’m now trying to combat the message victims are receiving. They need to know we are here, resources are available to you and we support you.”
Sullivan said he couldn’t stand by and do nothing on the heels of Torbick’s sentencing last month. Instead, he reached out to his community’s local crisis center, Voices Against Violence, and Danbury police to organize a community discussion about victim support services and ongoing prevention education work in local schools, which are part of the Newfound School District that previously employed Torbick.
His goal for Thursday night’s forum: “to restore faith in the system.”