Orange-Osceola State Attorney’s Office creates new unit to handle domestic violence, sex crimes

ORANGE COUNTY, Fla. — The Orange-Osceola State Attorney’s Office is creating a new unit to handle sex crime cases and allegations of domestic violence.

Officials said combining the two divisions streamlines the process and allows the Ninth Judicial Circuit to be more efficient.

>>> STREAM CHANNEL 9 EYEWITNESS NEWS LIVE <<<

Keisha Mulfort, director of public affairs for the Ninth Judicial Court, said because these two types of cases require similar specialized training to provide victims with appropriate trauma support, combining the two units will provide victims with more efficient representation.

“Having it like this ensures there’s uniformity ensures there is equity and it also provides them with an opportunity to lean on one another as well as there division chief,” Mulfort said.

READ: Local state attorney announces formation of new narcotics unit

And for the victims, she said it streamlines what’s often considered a long drawn out difficult process.

“When we are talking about the importance of this new unit and we are talking about the interest of justice we have victims who have been waiting over two years for their cases to be resolved,” she said. “We have some accused who are waiting over two years for their cases to be resolved.”

READ: Orange-Osceola state attorney forms committee to bridge gap between residents, justice system

And officials said there are also staffing deficiencies that make it nearly impossible to maintain two separate divisions.

Mulfort said between COVID-19, inflation and rent hikes, it’s hard for assistant state attorneys to afford to raise families on the salaries offered, which start at $50,000.

READ: Convicted cop killer Markeith Loyd involved in jailhouse altercation

Right now, officials said there are 144 assistant state attorneys to handle thousands of cases each year.

Click here to download the free WFTV news and weather apps, click here to download the WFTV Now app for your smart TV and click here to stream Channel 9 Eyewitness News live.

Karen Parks

Karen Parks, WFTV.com

Karen Parks is a reporter at WFTV.

Sarah Wilson

Sarah Wilson, WFTV.com

Sarah Wilson joined WFTV Channel 9 in 2018 as a digital producer after working as an award-winning newspaper reporter for nearly a decade in various communities across Central Florida.