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Assisting victims of crime

December 22, 2004|by PEPPER BALLARD

pepperb@herald-mail.com

No stranger to victims, Lisa Enderlin, the newest victim witness assistant coordinator in the Washington County State's Attorney's Office, said she hopes to keep victims from being strangers to the options available to them through the court system.

Enderlin, who worked for about five years as a legal advocate at Citizens Assisting and Sheltering the Abused Inc. - or CASA - dealt with victims of domestic violence and sexual assault. Now, Enderlin said, she deals with victims of all types of crimes in cases that go through Washington County District Court.

Washington County State's Attorney Charles Strong said that positions in the office's Victim Witness Unit are "extremely important" because those in the unit must interact with victims and community members. Her experience with CASA and in working with victims "were great assets," he said.

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"It was a phenomenal opportunity to get someone with her experience and background," he said. "The fit was just perfect. We're extremely happy."

Before Enderlin became involved with CASA, she said she didn't really understand the legal system. But now she knows she can explain to victims what options are available to them.

"I like being able to see somebody get their life back together," she said.

Enderlin said she doesn't allow herself to get too involved with victims. Once she's given the victims their options, she's done all she can do, she said. "It's their choice" how they will use that information, she said.

"That doesn't mean that when there's a really bad case it doesn't cross your mind," she said.

Enderlin said she's never been a victim of a crime or known someone personally who's been a victim of a crime. But she said she has no trouble empathizing.

"Everybody's probably been a victim of something at some point in their life," she said.

Helping victims understand the legal process is not always easy, she said. She said some victims go to the courthouse thinking the defendant will, if convicted, receive the maximum penalty for the crime, but that is not always the case.

"Helping the victim not to feel like it's a worthless cause is maybe the hardest thing sometimes," she said.

Enderlin said she spends more time in the courthouse now than when she worked for CASA.

She said she likes her new job, which is similar to her old job. The reason she took this job was due largely to job security, she said. CASA is a nonprofit agency, she said.

Washington County Attorney Richard Douglas said Enderlin's salary is $25,713.

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