Video-recording equipment played key role at abuse trial in Westmoreland County
By the time an 8-year-old girl took the stand to testify against the New Kensington man accused of assaulting her, three years had passed.
But jurors also saw and heard the videotape in which the then-5-year-old described the 2011 incidents shortly after they occurred.
“The forensic interview made a difference. It certainly highlighted previous consistent statements she had made,” said Judy Petrush, Westmoreland County assistant district attorney.
The jury found Omali McKay, 28, guilty of sexual assault charges.
Petrush said it was the first time video-recording equipment purchased by A Child's Place at Westmoreland was used in a criminal trial in Westmoreland County.
A Child's Place, part of the Pittsburgh Mercy Health System, provides services related to allegations of child abuse and neglect.
Because it takes time for a case to be heard, “with (video statements), a jury can better understand how a perpetrator could exploit this child,” Petrush said.
“For everyone, the judge, the jury, to see the statements the first time she made them is extremely powerful,” said Joan Mills, manager of A Child's Place at Westmoreland and Pittsburgh.
The video-recording equipment was purchased through a Community Foundation of Westmoreland County grant and a Zumba fundraiser organized by Murrysville fitness instructor Debbie Hedges.
The equipment enables children to make video-recorded statements at a North Huntingdon office, rather than traveling to Allegheny County.
Mills estimated that about 200 children from Westmoreland and Fayette counties visit the satellite office on Route 30 each year.
North Huntingdon residents Kathy and Jim Duffy are spearheading efforts to provide the children with creature comforts at the facility and to raise money for medical equipment so that sexual assault exams can be performed there.
Kathy Duffy is the founder/director of Energy Connection Creative Healing & Learning Center and Jim Duffy is an attorney.
Kathy Duffy read a newspaper article about A Child's Place, and was touched by the children's plight.
“They are going through these very traumatic interviews. My heart just broke, thinking they were scared. My first thought was, what would they like?” she said.
Duffy purchased and donated stuffed animals, and is collecting more through her business and the Norwin Aqua Club, where her grandchildren participate.
Energy Connection's website has a link, Project We Care!, with a list of needs — including books and backpacks — and ways to donate.
Collection bins are available at the Duffys' business at 150 Robbins Station Road, North Huntingdon.
Duffy's granddaughter, Olivia, 6, is making cord survival bracelets to sell at the center's gift shop, with proceeds going to A Child's Place at Westmoreland.
Donations are being sought to purchase a colposcope, a $14,000 piece of medical equipment that can be used in sexual assault exams.
“I think the stereotypical idea is that these kids are from inner cities, or that this does not happen here. Well, it happens, and we need to pay attention. I encourage people to pay their gratitude forward to these children,” Duffy said.
Mary Pickels is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. She can be reached at 724-836-5401 or email@example.com.
Show commenting policy
TribLive commenting policy
You are solely responsible for your comments and by using TribLive.com you agree to our Terms of Service.
We moderate comments. Our goal is to provide substantive commentary for a general readership. By screening submissions, we provide a space where readers can share intelligent and informed commentary that enhances the quality of our news and information.
While most comments will be posted if they are on-topic and not abusive, moderating decisions are subjective. We will make them as carefully and consistently as we can. Because of the volume of reader comments, we cannot review individual moderation decisions with readers.
We value thoughtful comments representing a range of views that make their point quickly and politely. We make an effort to protect discussions from repeated comments either by the same reader or different readers.
We follow the same standards for taste as the daily newspaper. A few things we won't tolerate: personal attacks, obscenity, vulgarity, profanity (including expletives and letters followed by dashes), commercial promotion, impersonations, incoherence, proselytizing and SHOUTING. Don't include URLs to Web sites.
We do not edit comments. They are either approved or deleted. We reserve the right to edit a comment that is quoted or excerpted in an article. In this case, we may fix spelling and punctuation.
We welcome strong opinions and criticism of our work, but we don't want comments to become bogged down with discussions of our policies and we will moderate accordingly.
We appreciate it when readers and people quoted in articles or blog posts point out errors of fact or emphasis and will investigate all assertions. But these suggestions should be sent via e-mail. To avoid distracting other readers, we won't publish comments that suggest a correction. Instead, corrections will be made in a blog post or in an article.
- Former Ligonier Township supervisor accused of abusing position, viewing porn on the job
- Missing Southwest Greensburg man found dead at crash site in Bell
- The real Captain Phillips brings story of piracy to St. Vincent College
- Laurel Mountain State Park ski plans will go to Ligonier Township supervisors
- Mt. Pleasant man injured when tractor hit by vehicle
- WCCC changes dual-enrollment policy
- $10K grants will help people purchase homes in Monessen
- Records access charges will rise in Westmoreland County
- Physicist found joy in family, friends, work, wine
- Municipal Authority of Westmoreland County upgrades emergency communications plan
- Route 22 lane in Derry Township blocked after crash