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Agencies throughout Madison County work together to convict child predators

The agencies said they all work together to get the best outcome.

Posted: Jan 17, 2020 6:45 PM
Updated: Jan 17, 2020 10:47 PM

WAAY 31 learned more about the process that helped send a Huntsville man to federal prison for 25 years.

Darnell Lawson was found guilty of sexually abusing a 10-year-old girl in her home in Huntsville, and authorities found pictures on his cell phone of the abuse.

Huntsville Police originally arrested Lawson, but because of a partnership between agencies that handle crimes against children, federal authorities were able to get him a tougher punishment.

Tim Douthit, Madison County Assistant District Attorney, said crimes against children are taken very seriously.

"When it comes to crimes against children, sexual crimes, violent crimes, we are all on the same team. No one is playing around," he said.

Chris Newlin, National Children's Advocacy Center, said, "We coordinate our efforts and come to one final child-friendly setting. Where we can do an interview, we can do medical exams, we can do victim advocacy and therapy in a setting that is comfortable for them."

Newlin said prior to this model children had to go through multiple interviews and to different places when a crime was committed against them.

The advocacy center worked to bring everyone together.

"Everybody gets together. The doctors, DHR workers, the prosecutors, and the police from all the local law enforcement jurisdictions. We meet about all the new child abuse cases in Madison County decide where they're going what's going to happen next, and it keeps everyone informed so the right hand always knows what the left hand is doing," Douthit said.

Both men explained the partnership has made sure that criminals are given the toughest punishment and that no case falls through the cracks.

"It saves money and we have better outcomes and that's why it's being replicated all over the us," Newlin added.

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