The victim-witness program of the Douglas County Attorney’s Office strives to empower sexual assault survivors and promote healing by employing a victim-centered approach. Never do we intend to further victimize a survivor. However, State v. Cory Elkins, a case from 2008 that was prosecuted by the prior administration, has illustrated that trauma is real and can resurface at any time.
Two years ago, the Elkins case was sent back to the district court for resentencing due to a substantive change in the law. The change in law required that the defendant’s sentence be modified by the court. My office knew that we would advocate for the maximum possible sentence allowable by law as the case involved very violent rapes that occurred in the 1990s.
As the prosecutor readied for the resentencing of Cory Elkins, my office had one person, a veteran victim-witness coordinator, on staff who had been involved in the original prosecution and sentencing. My office followed her recommendation to not re-traumatize the survivors by bringing them back for sentencing again. To be clear, each of the survivors had spoken to the court at the original sentencing, and we trusted the expertise of the victim-witness coordinator. Importantly, we moved ahead and the defendant received the maximum possible sentence under the law.
Over the past year, our office has spoken directly with one of the survivors several times to explain the law as it relates to the defendant's resentencing, to validate her feelings and to express our empathy for all of the pain she has endured. While no more than the maximum possible sentence could have resulted at resentencing, we understand and appreciate that some may be angry with the outcome and with my office.
Our victim-witness program is made up of trained, compassionate and vocal advocates. To further improve our victim-centered approach, we recently added an additional coordinator. We also continually evaluate our program for gaps in providing services, and we strive listen to survivors at all stages of the criminal justice process.
Public Information Officer
Douglas County District Attorney's Office