It is the mission of the Berks District Attorney's Office, in conjunction with Berks County Children and Youth Services, to investigate incidents of reported child abuse. This is accomplished through a coordinated system designed to provide the victims with a unified approach in order to promote the well-being of child victims of abuse in Berks County.
The Berks County District Attorney’s Office currently has eight detectives assigned to the Child Abuse Unit. This sexual assault unit is led by Sergeant Gerardo Vega, who is a Certified Forensic Interviewer. Sergeant Vega leads a core group of detectives who investigate child abuse incidents, both sexual and physical in nature. The unit works closely with other county agencies, which include Berks County Children and Youth Services and the Children’s Alliance Center of Berks County.
Sergeant Harold Shenk supervises the physical abuse unit, which consists of three full-time detectives and sometimes as many as six full-time detectives, depending on the caseload.
What is Child Abuse?
- Any recent act or failure to act by a perpetrator which causes non-accidental serious physical injury to a child under 18 years of age.
- An act or failure to act by a perpetrator which causes sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of a child under18 years of age.
- Any recent act, failure to act or series of such acts or failures to act by a perpetrator which creates an imminent risk of serious physical injury to or sexual abuse or sexual exploitation of a child under 18 years of age.
- Serious physical neglect by a perpetrator constituting prolonged or repeated lack of supervision or the failure to provide the essentials of life, including adequate medical care, which endangers a child's life or development or impairs the child's functioning.
What County agencies are involved in Child Abuse investigations?
Berks County District Attorney's Office (DA): is responsible for prosecuting child abuse cases and protecting the rights of child victims in the judicial system.
Law Enforcement Agencies (LEA): includes municipal police departments and the Pennsylvania State Police who have the training and expertise needed to investigate incidents of alleged abuse.
Victim/Witness Unit: located within the District Attorney's Office, prepares child victims and their families for participation in the criminal justice system. The Victim/Witness Unit will assist child victims and their families to secure funds from the Pennsylvania Crime Victims' Compensation Fund.
Berks County Children and Youth Services: Berks County Children and Youth Services is assigned to protect children, up to eighteen years of age, from abuse and neglect. The staff investigates all reports of child maltreatment in Berks County. For families at risk of future abuse or neglect, services and monitoring are implemented to ensure child safety and allow the children to remain in their homes.
Berks County Children's Alliance Center: The Children’s Alliance Center (CAC) of Berks County provides a child-friendly environment that welcomes abused children and non-offender family members and caregivers. Children will be interviewed once at the CAC. Various agencies will observe the interview simultaneously, thereby reducing the number of interviews and the amount of emotional stress.
REPORT CHILD ABUSE 1-800-932-0313