Information about what two McHenry County State’s Attorney’s employees who rarely make news do:
Who are the McHenry County Victim Service Representatives and What Do They Do?
The McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office has two Victim Service Representatives.
- Susan VanDiggelen and
- Araceli “Celi” Alvarez.
Few people know of the function of the Victim Service Representatives and the dedicated work these two employees perform. Let this article introduce you to them and their work.
The Victim Service Representatives provide services to victims, witnesses, and family members of violent crimes that have been committed in McHenry County. The primary function of the Victim Witness Representatives is to serve as a contact point for the victims, witnesses, and family members throughout the entire criminal justice process. Furthering that, they provide a wide variety of services, including the following:
- They ensure full compliance with the Rights of Crime Victims and Witnesses Act (725 ILCS 120), and the procedures and mandates of the McHenry County State’s Attorney’s Office. They exercise discretion, independent judgment and their professional skills in assessing and serving the needs of victims by effectively responding to the emotional, physical, and financial aftermath of victimization.
- Susan and Celi participate in the Family Violence Council and regularly attend meetings with school officials, counselors, police officers, crisis center advocates and other Illinois Victim Advocates and Agencies.
- Susan and Celi also coordinate with victims, witnesses, and family members all court dates, explain court procedures and reasons for any postponements or delays, and assist in the preparation for trial.
- They assess the service needs of the victims, witnesses, and family members and make the appropriate referrals to other social service agencies.
- They assist child victims, witnesses, and family members with special needs prior to and during the court proceedings and attempt to reduce the anxiety experienced by all of their clients.
- They coordinate the availability of witnesses and victims with the prosecuting Assistant State’s Attorney and act as a liaison between the attorney and the victims and witnesses.
- They also help victims and family members prepare impact statements, procure return of stolen or personal property held as evidence, and process claims through the Victim Compensation Program by assisting in the compilation of the necessary documents to be submitted to the Attorney General’s Office.
- They also help applicants through the process of securing a U-Visa in violent crime cases.
- Finally, Susan and Celi participate in multi-disciplinary teams from police departments, the Child Advocacy Center, Turning Point, DCFS, the Youth Service Bureau and the Northwest Treatment Center, just to name a few.
If you or a family member are ever unfortunate enough to be the victim of, or a witness to, a violent crime, it is Susan and Celi that will be your point of contact and guide you as painlessly as possible through the court system from the very first court appearance to a sentencing hearing.
These two ladies coordinate all activities between victims and witnesses and the State’s Attorney’s Office and the court system. State’s Attorney Lou Bianchi is proud to have Susan VanDiggelen and Celi Alvarez serve the County.