Press Releases & Media

Articles & Press Releases

Prosecutor Releases Data on Domestic Violence – February 23, 2007

For Immediate Release
February 23, 2007
For More Information, contact:
Chris Gaal, Office of the Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney, 349-2670


Bloomington, IN — Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Gaal announced today that his office will begin releasing data on domestic violence cases starting this month. Specifically, Gaal proposed to provide the information in a user-friendly, electronic spreadsheet on a monthly basis to local agencies concerned with domestic violence.

The format will include the name of the offender, the date the case was filed, the cause number identifying the case in the court system, a list of charges, status of the case, and the end result. The form includes an additional space for comment to record the sentence received in the case. The data also will track cases referred to the Domestic Violence Intervention System, a batterer’s treatment program provided by the Center for Behavioral Health.

Although the proposed information is a public record, the prosecutor’s office has not shared such information for the past several years. Lack of communication between the prosecutor’s office and local community organizations concerned with domestic violence was a contentious issue during the campaign for prosecutor. Gaal said he believes that releasing domestic violence data fulfills an important campaign commitment.

“Agencies concerned with domestic violence such as Middle Way House and the City’s Commission on the Status of Women must have access to accurate data in order to perform an effective community oversight role,” Gaal said. “Better access to information from the prosecutor will promote communication and foster an ongoing community dialogue on the best practices for handling domestic violence situations effectively.”

Middle Way House director Toby Strout welcomed the announcement.

“We hope to use this information to work with the prosecutor’s office and develop new ideas to improve the way domestic violence cases are handled in the justice system,” Strout said.

There are two deputy prosecutors currently dedicated to handling domestic violence cases, both of whom have been working with the recently elected Gaal since the beginning of the year to evaluate and update the office’s domestic violence policies.

“We have already redesigned the referral form used by local law enforcement agencies to investigate domestic violence cases,” said deputy prosecutor Jackie Dakich.

Deputy prosecutor Rebecca Veidlinger added that the new form includes prominent notification to victims of emergency services available through Middle Way House. “It also features clear information on obtaining protective orders and no-contact orders,” she said.

The prosecutor’s Victim’s Assistance Program is currently working with Middle Way to develop referral information for Spanish-speaking victims.

“We will continue to evaluate our domestic violence program and reach out to our community partners to identify new areas for improvement,” pledged Gaal.

Prosecutor’s Office Adds New Victim Assistant – June 30, 2008

For Immediate Release
June 30, 2008
For More Information, contact:
Chris Gaal, Office of the Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney, 349-2670


Bloomington, IN — The Office of Prosecuting Attorney Chris Gaal today announced that Lara Weaver will take a new position as Victim’s Assistant beginning in July of 2008. “Lara brings a wealth of experience in dealing with the needs of women and children who have been victimized by domestic violence,” said Prosecuting Attorney Chris Gaal.

“Issues of community health and well-being, social justice, and service for women and children are very important to me and central to the work I do,” said Lara Weaver. “I look forward to now pursuing these goals, particularly in the area of domestic violence, as part of the team in the prosecutor’s office.”

Lara Weaver was most recently employed as Co-Director of the Templeton-Shalom Family Resource Center in Bloomington, where her duties include providing literacy based programming and other services to address poverty and educational issues facing low-income families.

Weaver was previously employed by Middle Way House from 1997 to 2006 and from 1991 to 1994. She served on Middle Way’s Board of Directors and Finance Committee. She was the Community and Family Programs Coordinator for The Rise! Weaver helped create and deliver the Building Healthy Relationships program, a prevention/education effort aimed at reducing dating and sexual violence provided to about 4,000 youth annually. She facilitated weekly Parenting Support Group meetings for mothers receiving services through Middle Way House. Weaver also worked with Middle Way clients providing various programs on life, literacy and communication skills. She was also Child Care Services Coordinator at Middle Way’s Family Support Center, where she provided parenting support group programs and other assistance to women single-heads-of-households as part of a national Homelessness Prevention Demonstration Grant project.

Prior working for Middle Way, Lara Weaver worked as Teen Options Program Coordinator for the Bloomington Hospital Community Health Education Department. There she coordinated youth programs with an emphasis on teen pregnancy and disease prevention. Weaver was also Director of Parents Day Out, a childcare program of the United Methodist Church in Nashville, Indiana.

Weaver will join two existing victim’s assistants in the Prosecutor’s Office whose duties include empowering crime victims to understand the legal process, keeping victims informed of court dates and the status of their cases, helping victims obtain restitution to cover losses resulting from crime and medical bills, and providing referrals to other services such as counseling and the Violent Crime Compensation Fund. Weaver will work with domestic violence cases and community education and prevention efforts.

Longer “Cooling Off” Period Required After Domestic Violence Arrest – November 21, 2008

For Immediate Release
November 21, 2008
For More Information, contact:
Chris Gaal, Office of the Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney, 349-2670
Judge Marc Kellams, Monroe County Circuit Court II 349-2625


Bloomington, IN — Based on her experience handling domestic violence cases for the last eleven years, Deputy Prosecutor Jackie Dakich believes the new domestic violence court under Judge Marc Kellams represents a significant step forward. “It really helps to have all of these cases grouped before the same judge and handled in a consistent manner,” she said. “Once the domestic violence court began, we started thinking about other things we could do to improve the way these cases are handled.”

Through her regular interaction with crime victims, Dakich believed that the top priority should be a longer “cooling off” period before a defendant arrested for domestic violence could be released from jail on bond. “If a defendant gets to bond out of jail immediately, the spouse or intimate partner may not have enough time to get to a safe place and avoid further confrontation,” said Dakich.

Recognizing the value of such a “cooling off” period the State legislature recently required a minimum eight hour holding period for all defendants arrested for domestic violence offenses. Monroe County had in fact already adopted a twelve hour holding period several years before. But Dakich wanted to extend “cooling off” period further, “Domestic violence arrests usually occur late at night, which gives the victim only a few hours to gather her children and belongings, and find a safe place to go – twelve hours just isn’t enough.” Dakich believed that further extending the “cooling off” period to twenty four hours would provide a real public safety benefit by reducing the likelihood of further confrontation and violence, and giving victims a greater opportunity to get help.

Dakich suggested the proposed change to Judge Marc Kellams, who oversees the county’s domestic violence cases in Circuit Court II. Kellams then presented it to the Board of Judges. “The Judges agreed with the reasons for a longer holding period, and decided to adopt this change to Monroe County’s standard bond schedule,” said Judge Kellams. Under the new policy defendants arrested for domestic violence will be required to spend a minimum of twenty-four hours before posting bond and being released from jail.

Middle Way House Executive Director Toby Strout welcomed the new policy saying, “This will allow us a greater window to provide emergency services and assist victims of domestic violence in finding safe temporary housing, relocating children, and obtaining other needed services and assistance.” Strout is also hopeful that the longer cooling off period will prevent violent confrontations from continuing once the defendant is released from jail. “In our experience, defendants arrested for domestic violence often try to contact the victim once they are released from jail, and those initial contacts are frequently intimidating and traumatic for victims and children.”

Cooling-off period allows time for abuse prevention – Herald-Times, November 26, 2008

Our opinion
Cooling-off period allows time for abuse prevention
November 26, 2008

In July, a new law took effect requiring anyone arrested for domestic violence to spend at least eight hours in custody.

The policy behind the “cooling-off period” was to reduce the number of repeat offenses that often occur when a violent offender is released on bond. The delay also allows for victims to find safe accommodations and/or seek a protective order.

Even before the adoption of the new law, the Monroe County prosecutor’s office required a longer cooling-off period: 12 hours instead of eight. And this week, deputy prosecutor Jackie Dakich, who oversees domestic violence cases, announced that the cooling off period in Monroe County has been extended to 24 hours. Because domestic abuse typically takes place at night, 12 hours might not be long enough for the victim to find a suitable safe place to stay. The additional 12 hours, says Dakich, should greatly reduce the likelihood of further violence.

As Middle Way House Executive Director Toby Strout noted, the initial contacts by a perpetrator after being released from jail are often intimidating for victims and children. The more time that passes, the more time available for neutralizing anger — and perhaps sobering up.

The new holding time, which took effect Nov. 1, applies to all battery cases in Monroe County.
The extended cooling-off period is an important step in Monroe County’s attempts to curb domestic violence in our community. The creation of the domestic violence court, with jurisdiction consolidated in Judge Marc Kellams’ court with Dakich as prosecutor, has also been a good strategy.

While nothing is guaranteed when it comes to prevention of domestic violence, spending 24 hours in jail might be enough to temper emotions and reduce the chances of further injuries or tragedy.

Law Enforcement Reaching Out To Local Latino Community – March 3, 2010 (in English & Español)

For Immediate Release
March 3, 2010
For More Information, contact:
Chris Gaal, Office of the Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney, 349-2670

Law Enforcement Reaching Out To Local Latino Community

Bloomington, Indiana – A group of representatives from the local Latino community stand proudly in front of the Monroe County courthouse. The caption reads in Spanish, “La Violencia Domestica Es Un Problema Comunitario, Unase A Nosotros Y Hagase Parte De Una Solucion Communitaria.” In English it means, “Domestic Violence is a Community Problem, Join Us To Be A Part Of The Solution.” A brightly-colored collage appears in the foreground highlighting positive values associated with Latino culture and families – “Respecto, Fidelidad, Confianza, Honor, Proteccion, Seguridad, Responsibilidad, Amor.” (Respect, Loyalty, Trust, Honor, Protection, Safety, Responsibility, Love.)

The poster and a similar public service announcement kick off an effort to reach out to the local Latino community from the Office of the Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Gaal, in collaboration with the Bloomington Police Department and the Monroe County Sheriff’s Department. An interagency task force has been working to identify issues that may keep Latino crime victims from reporting the incident to law enforcement – such as language and other cultural barriers. The group engaged in a series of meetings with leaders from the Latino community to help identify strategies for better serving Spanish-speaking crime victims.

“We chose the initial focus on domestic violence because we wanted to encourage victims to come forward and not be afraid of the justice system,” says Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Gaal. “We hope to build trust and let Latino residents know that we will respond with compassion in a language that they can understand. We don’t want crimes of violence to go unreported.”

As part of the new outreach effort, the Prosecutor’s Office translated its Victim’s Assistance Program brochure into Spanish so that information can be shared with the victim as soon as a criminal charge is filed. (Programa de Asistencia para las Victimas.) The new brochure explains the legal rights of crime victims, and provides a basic overview of the criminal justice system so that victims know what to expect. It also helps to prepare them for the possibility of testifying as a witness at trial.

“Reaching out like this is not only helpful for the victims,” says Lara Weaver, a Victim’s Assistant in the prosecutor’s office, “But it also helps build trust and secure greater cooperation so that victims are willing to stick with the process and testify, and so criminals are held accountable. That is an important part of keeping our community a safe place to live.”

Bloomington Police Department Chief Mike Diekhoff hopes the effort will overcome barriers that may have prevented victims of violent crime from calling the police in the past, “We want all crime victims to know that we have officers who speak Spanish, and that we are concerned about the safety of all residents in our community.”

In the event a Spanish–speaking officer is unavailable, local police can now use a language line service which immediately connects the caller with someone who speaks any of 175 languages. When calling emergency 9-1-1 an individual can simply say their language, such as ‘Espanol’, and central dispatch will connect them with the 3-way language line interpretation service.

Several area agencies and businesses that serve the local Latino community met with the task force and agreed to support the message as sponsors. These include: The Latino Coalition Against Sexual Violence and Domestic Violence, St. Paul’s Catholic Church, The City of Bloomington’s Latino Programs and Safe and Civil City Program, Middle Way House, El Norteno, Olive Market, Indiana University La Casa and El Centro Communal.

“We have worked hard to reach out to and appropriately serve Spanish-speaking victims of sexual and domestic violence,” says Toby Strout, Executive Director of Middle Way House. “Staff and paid volunteers can provide crisis intervention and legal and personal advocacy in Spanish. We welcome outreach efforts like this one – especially focusing on domestic violence.”

Tim Gonzalez, Multi-Cultural Minister at the St. Paul Catholic Center, who has been actively involved in the project, agrees “This is an important step forward. Spanish speakers should know that their voices will be heard, that they can report a crime without fear, and that means a safer community for all of us.”

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Para su difusión inmediata
3 de marzo, 2010
Para más información, contácte a:
Chris Gaal, Oficina del Fiscal del condado de Monroe, 349-2670

Agencias del orden público ofrecen su ayuda a la comunidad latina local

Bloomington, Indiana – Un grupo representativo de la comunidad latina local adopta una postura orgullosa en frente del edificio del Tribunal del condado de Monroe. La leyenda reza: “ La violencia doméstica es un problema comunitario, únase a nosotros y hágase parte de una solución comunitaria.” Un collage de colores vivos aparece en primer plano realzando los valores positivos asociados con la cultura y la familia latina – “Respeto, Fidelidad, Confianza, Honor, Protección, Seguridad, Responsabilidad, Amor.”

El póster y un anuncio de servicio público similar dieron inicio a un esfuerzo para acercarse a la comunidad local latina por parte de la Oficina del Fiscal del condado de Monroe, Chris Gaal, en colaboración con el Departamento de Policía de Bloomington, y el Departamento del Sheriff del condado de Monroe. Un grupo especial de varias agencias ha estado trabajando para identificar las razones que provocan que las víctimas de delitos latinas no denuncien un incidente a las autoridades del orden público – tales como el idioma y las barreras culturales. El grupo participó en una serie de reuniones con los líderes de la comunidad latina para ayudar a identificar las estrategias para servir mejor a las víctimas de delitos hispanohablantes.

“Escogimos concentrarnos inicialmente en la violencia doméstica porque queríamos alentar a las víctimas a que se hagan presentes y no le tengan temor al sistema de justicia,” dice el Fiscal del condado de Monroe, Chris Gaal. “Esperamos fomentar confianza y asegurarnos que los latinos sepan que responderemos con compasión en un lenguaje que ellos pueden entender. No queremos que los delitos violentos no sean denunciados.”

Como parte del nuevo esfuerzo de acercamiento a la comunidad latina, la Oficina del Fiscal tradujo al español su folleto sobre el programa de asistencia para las víctimas de manera que esa información pueda ser compartida con la víctima tan pronto como sea denunciado el delito. Este nuevo folleto explica los derechos de las víctimas de delitos, y provee una visión general del sistema de justicia penal de forma que las víctimas sepan qué puede suceder. Además, el folleto ofrece información que ayuda a las víctimas a estar preparadas para la posibilidad de tener que testificar en un juicio.

“Este tipo de acercamiento a la comunidad latina no solamente es útil para las víctimas,” dice Lara Weaver, una asistente de las víctimas en la Oficina del Fiscal, “sino que también ayuda a fomentar la confianza y asegurar una cooperación más amplia para que las víctimas estén dispuestas a continuar con el proceso y a testificar, de manera que los delincuentes sean hechos responsables de sus acciones. Eso es una parte importante para hacer que nuestra comunidad continúe siendo un lugar seguro para vivir.”

Mike Diekhoff, jefe del Departamento de Policía de Bloomington, espera que este esfuerzo haga posible que se superen las barreras que hayan podido impedir en el pasado que las víctimas de delitos violentos llamaran a la policía, “queremos que todas las víctimas de delitos sepan que tenemos agentes de policía que hablan español, y que nos preocupamos por la seguridad de todos los residentes de nuestra comunidad.”

En el caso de que un agente de policía hispanoparlantes no esté a disposición, la policía local ahora puede utilizar un servicio telefónico de idiomas que inmediatamente conecta a la persona que llama con alguien que hable uno de los 175 idiomas disponibles. Al llamar al número de emergencia 9-1-1 un individuo simplemente puede decir cuál es su idioma, como por ejemplo “español”, y el centro de recepción de llamadas, mientras se mantiene en la línea, lo conectará con el servicio de interpretación de idiomas telefónica.

Varios organismos y negocios del área que brindan servicios a la comunidad latina local se reunieron con el grupo especial de agencias y acordaron patrocinar el mensaje. Estos incluyen: La Coalición Latina en Contra de la Violencia Sexual y la Violencia Doméstica, la Iglesia Católica St. Paul, el Departamento de Programas Latinos y de Seguridad y Orden Común de la ciudad de Bloomington, el refugio Middle Way House, el restaurante El Norteño, el Olive Market, La Casa de la Universidad de Indiana y el Centro Comunal Latino.

“Nos hemos esforzado para acercarnos y ofrecer servicios apropiados a las víctimas hispanohablantes de violencia sexual y doméstica,” dice Toby Strout, directora ejecutiva de Middle Way House. “Nuestro personal y voluntarios pueden proporcionar intervención en casos de crisis y apoyo legal y personal en español. Le damos la bienvenida a esfuerzos de acercamiento como éste – un proyecto especialmente enfocado en la violencia doméstica.”

Tim Gonzalez, encargado de asuntos multi-culturales en el Centro Católico St. Paul y que ha estado involucrado activamente en el proyecto, está de acuerdo con que “Éste es un paso hacia delante importante. Las personas de habla hispana deben saber que sus voces serán escuchadas, que ellos pueden denunciar un delito sin temor, y eso significa una comunidad más segura para todos nosotros.”

Commissioners Adopt Domestic Violence Policy for County Employees – October 24, 2011

October 24, 2011

Iris Kiesling: (812) 349-2550
Rhonda Foster: (812) 349-7313
Lara Weaver: (812) 349-2670

Commissioners Adopt Domestic Violence Policy for County Employees

Monroe County’s employee personnel policy now has a section that addresses domestic violence as a workplace issue. The new policy states, “Monroe County is committed to providing a supportive workplace environment free of domestic violence.”

County Commissioners adopted the policy in October just in time for Domestic Violence Awareness Month.

“Domestic Violence doesn’t stay in the home,” says Commissioner Iris Kiesling. “It comes to the workplace and affects employee performance.”

The new policy recommends appropriate responses to employees who are victims of domestic violence. It also addresses potential disciplinary action against employees who are perpetrators. It specifically prohibits using government resources, work time, or equipment in connection with an act of domestic violence. The policy also includes a protocol for confidentiality, and a plan for education and outreach to county employees.

The policy was developed by County Human Resources Director Rhonda Foster, and Lara Weaver, Executive Assistant in the Prosecutor’s Office.

“Work performance, tardiness, absenteeism are common workplace issues that can arise when employees become victims of domestic violence,” said Foster. “We hope this policy can not only assist these employees to access helpful resources, but also reduce costs and become a model for other organizations that want to include domestic violence as a workplace issue.”

According to one study (Guirchek 2005), domestic violence costs U.S. businesses an estimated $728.8 million in productivity and approximately $7.9 million in paid work days each year.

“It is a good business practice for employers to be prepared and adopt policies that outline an appropriate response to domestic violence,” says Lara Weaver, Executive Assistant in the Monroe County Prosecutor’s Office. “Today, companies that fail to develop policies to create a safe workplace can face substantial liability. Employers who take action can not only avoid these costs, but also make a positive difference in the lives of their employees and improve productivity in the workplace.”

The “Domestic Violence Workplace Policy” is available from Human Resources page on the County’s website at

New Partnership to Assist in Seeking Civil Protective Orders – November 2, 2011

November 2, 2011

Contact: Linda Robbins (812) 349-2614
Chris Gaal (812) 349-2670

New Partnership to Assist in Seeking Civil Protective Orders

Monroe County Clerk, Linda Robbins, and Prosecutor Chris Gaal, have established a new partnership to assist Monroe County residents seeking civil protective orders. The Protective Order Assistance Partnership (POAP) will utilize volunteers to meet with citizens in a private space in the Clerk’s Office to answer basic questions about the process, provide assistance in filling out the forms correctly, and make referrals to other available services, including Middle Way House.

“I am so grateful to the partners who stepped up to help our citizens when in need. Through all our efforts, individuals may receive the right kind of help from trained assistants who understand the complex issues that confront this population,” says Clerk Linda Robbins. “We have made private space available within our office so that individuals seeking protection are able to speak confidentially about their situation.”

The volunteers will come from the I. U. Maurer School of Law’s Protective Order Project, and Middle Way House. The Prosecutor’s Office will supervise a student intern from the I. U. School of Social Work to coordinate the program.

Prof. Seth Lahn, faculty director of the Law School’s Protective Order Project, welcomes the initiative, saying: “Taking our services to where the clients are, within the Clerk’s Office yet within a private space for interviews, will allow us to reach many more victims of domestic violence, stalking, or sex offenses in the community.”

Toby Strout, Executive Director of Middle Way House, is pleased to be part of a partnership which brings more services to victims and survivors. “Middle Way House’s Legal Advocates serve an average of 38 new clients and 51 continuing clients each month at the New Wings site. Meeting with people at the Clerk’s Office will bring the whole range of Middle Way services to more members of the community.”

Indiana law authorizes the issuance of a protective order where a petitioner has alleged that violence by a family or household member; stalking; or a sex offense has occurred.

The Prosecutor’s Office already obtains “no contact” orders at the request of a victim in a pending criminal case. In 2010, Monroe County judges also ordered 444 protective orders from over 600 requests that were made to the civil courts.

“We are glad to support a program that improves the accessibility and quality of services for those seeking civil protective orders on their own,” states Prosecutor Gaal.

Volunteers will be available in the Clerk’s Office Mondays from 8:00 a.m. to 9:30 a.m. and 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Wednesdays from 11:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m., Thursdays from 9:00 a.m. to noon, and Fridays from 9:00 a.m. to 4:00 p.m.

Domestic Violence Study Committee Formed – March 22, 2013


Date: March 22, 2013
Contact: Charlotte Zietlow
(812) 339-7188

Chris Gaal
(812) 349-2670

Domestic Violence Study Committee Formed

“Responding effectively to domestic violence requires open communication, and broad-based cooperation and coordination among local resources and service providers,” says Charlotte Zietlow, chair of a newly formed committee set up to study the current state of the community’s response to domestic violence.

The committee was initiated by Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Gaal in order to explore “additional ways to improve services and implement best practices regarding domestic violence in the community.” Gaal sent out an invitation letter to a group of key stakeholders requesting that each group send representatives to participate in a series of meetings to discuss the issue.

“Our hope is that the committee will gather information, evaluate the current community response to domestic violence, identify any potential areas for improvement, and make recommendations for any additional resources or public education and prevention efforts,” said Gaal.

Meetings began in December and so far have included presentations by representatives from Middle Way House, the local Department of Child Services office, a Sexual Assault Nurse Examiner, a retired social worker from I.U. Health Bloomington Hospital, Southern Indiana Pediatrics and Court Appointed Special Advocates (CASA).

The group plans to continue with presentations from local religious leaders, the city’s Commission on the Status of Women, the county Women’s Commission, and representatives from various programs at Indiana University. The committee will also hear from representatives in the criminal justice system, including the city police, Sheriff Department, the prosecutor’s office, judges, probation, victims, mental health providers, and a defense attorney.

“We are keenly aware that much domestic violence remains unreported, for a number of reasons,” commented Zietlow, “and are searching for new ways to reach out to victims who do not seek out support, either from law enforcement or from other local agencies.”

The committee also plans to review research on best practices and policies in order to help evaluate the community response. At the conclusion of the process, committee chair Charlotte Zietlow plans to summarize the findings and recommendations of the group in a report.

Since 2007, the prosecutor’s office has kept detailed records of every domestic violence case and publicly released those records in a detailed electronic monthly spreadsheet provided to the City of Bloomington Domestic Violence Task Force. “I am not aware of any other prosecutor’s office in the State, or the nation for that matter, that is providing this level of transparency in the handling of domestic violence cases,” said Gaal.

“This is a broad-based group of stakeholders from the community representing a variety of interests,” said chair Charlotte Zietlow. ”“Our challenge is to learn how to work together more effectively, encourage reporting, and better prevent and respond to domestic violence.”

Domestic Violence Prosecution Training to be Held in Bloomington – May 24, 2013

May 24, 2013
For More Information, contact:
Chris Gaal, Office of the Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney, 812-349-2670
Or visit


Bloomington, Indiana – The Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council (IPAC) will hold a domestic violence trial advocacy training at the Monroe County Convention Center June 3-5. The program was developed for deputy prosecutors from around the State of Indiana who specialize in handling domestic violence cases and will be hosted by Monroe County Prosecutor Chris Gaal.

The training is designed to help improve trial advocacy skills by requiring participants to present a practice case which includes issues that typically arise in the context of domestic violence. Each deputy’s trial practice will then be critiqued by advanced trial advocacy trainers. The program will also include a practical discussion of policy issues common to handling domestic violence cases.

Scheduled topics include:

• Cross-examination of victims
• Direct examination of an expert witness to help explain victim behavior
• Group discussion on charging policy
• Guilty pleas, sentencing and Batterer Intervention Programs
• Defining the prosecutor’s role in domestic violence cases (a process-oriented approach)
• Jury selection in a domestic violence case

“We are honored to host this training on trial advocacy skills in Bloomington for deputy prosecutors from around the state who handle domestic violence cases,” said Gaal. Gaal currently serves as chair of the IPAC Board of Directors, and on the IPAC Elder, Delinquency, Domestic Violence and Sex Crimes Committee.

Since taking on his role as IPAC Executive Director two years ago, David Powell has made trial advocacy training a top priority for the organization and has increased focus on issues such as domestic violence. “It is up to us to share the knowledge and skills of our more experienced prosecutors with the newer generation of younger attorneys now coming up through the ranks,” said Powell. “This trial advocacy course is another important step in that direction, as we all work together against domestic violence.”

New Domestic Violence Victim Assistant – July 29, 2013

July 29, 2013
For More Information, contact:
Chris Gaal, Office of the Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney, 812-349-2670
Or visit



Bloomington, IN — The current victim assistant dedicated to domestic violence cases in the prosecutor’s office is moving on to attend law school this fall in Minnesota. But the prosecutor’s office is excited to announce that Josefa Luce will fill the position – bringing helpful skills as a native Spanish speaker, experienced victim advocate, and former Bloomington police officer.

Josefa Luce most recently worked at the Coburn Place Safe Haven in Indianapolis, a domestic violence victim advocacy organization. She worked as a bi-lingual advocate assisting women and children fleeing from domestic violence to find safe, affordable housing, and develop greater self-sufficiency.

Prior to that, Josefa Luce was an officer with the Bloomington Police Department. She worked as a liaison with the Spanish-speaking community, as a school resource officer, and as a bicycle patrol officer. She has experience responding to and investigating domestic violence cases, and was also professionally trained as a community bilingual interpreter.

Josefa Luce also worked with the Indiana University Police Department, and is a graduate of Indiana University, and the Indiana Law Enforcement Academy. While a student, she also created “Team Mezcla” – the first Latina cycling team in the I.U. Little 500.

“We are very excited that Josefa Luce will be joining our team,” said Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Gaal. “She brings valuable experience and skills. She also understands the importance of working collaboratively with others in the community to help prevent domestic violence.”

During her time with the Bloomington Police Department, Officer Luce appeared on a poster developed for the Latino Outreach Program organized by the prosecutor’s office addressing the issue of “la violencia domestica” (domestic violence.) She can be seen wearing her uniform alongside other representatives from the local Latino community.

“This is a great opportunity to continue the work I am passionate about,” said Josefa Luce, “Reaching out to victims of domestic violence, and encouraging them to come forward and report to law enforcement – to help break out of the cycle of violence.”

The new prosecutor’s office website features more information on Domestic Violence, Prevention and Education, and the Latino Outreach Program.

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Indiana Prosecutors Hone DV Courtroom Skills – September 29, 2015


Indiana Prosecutors Hone Domestic Violence, Sexual Assault Courtroom Skills

(BLOOMINGTON) September 29, 2015 – Monroe County Prosecuting Attorney Chris Gaal welcomed nearly two dozen Indiana prosecutors and deputy prosecutors to Bloomington as they begin three days of specialized training to prosecute domestic violence and sexual assault cases. A third day of training will include nurse examiners and domestic violence experts as the trainees practice investigative and courtroom scenarios.

“This training is designed to help you develop your expertise and skills and to become better prosecutors in handling these types of challenging cases,” Prosecutor Gaal told the attendees. “You will have an opportunity not only to hear from subject matter experts… but to hone your skills of presentation and persuasion.”

Gaal serves on the Elder, Delinquency, Domestic Violence, and Sex Crimes Committee of the Indiana Prosecuting Attorneys Council (IPAC) along with Allen County Prosecuting Attorney Karen Richards (chairman), Delaware County Prosecuting Attorney Jeff Arnold, Dubois County Deputy Prosecuting Attorney Cheryl Hillenburg, Lawrence County Prosecuting Attorney Michelle Woodward and Putnam County Prosecuting Attorney Timothy Bookwalter.

Prosecutor Gaal thanked the individuals who planned the training agenda and particularly acknowledged the efforts of Course Director Suzanne O’Malley, Deputy Director of IPAC, who was assisted by numerous volunteers and experts in domestic violence and sexual assault.

Prosecutor’s Office and Middle Way Team Up To Address Domestic Violence – November 9, 2017


Collaboration will include efforts to address the seriousness of strangulation in domestic violence cases, beginning with November 14th cross-disciplinary training on emerging best practices

(November 9, 2017) BLOOMINGTON, IN: – Monroe County Prosecutor Chris Gaal and Middle Way House Executive Director Debra Morrow met over the summer to brainstorm new ideas to better address domestic violence. For both Gaal and Morrow, the issue of strangulation was at the top of that list.

Each recently attended in-depth trainings about strangulation and clearly recognized the seriousness of the problem. Strangulation occurs when a victim’s breathing or blood circulation is cut off, and can result in serious injury or even death. Research shows that an attempted strangulation significantly increases the risk of future homicide. They agreed to prioritize the issue and move forward as quickly as possible to better address it.

“In a strangulation, a perpetrator can release and re-apply pressure to the neck repeatedly, emphasizing over and over again that they have power and control over the victim,” said Gaal. “And because strangulation may happen without even leaving a physical mark, perpetrators may tell the victim that they won’t be believed.”

“Strangulation victims often experience trauma, and may have difficulty recalling and clearly expressing what they experienced,” added Morrow. “What’s more, medical or physical evidence may be missed by first responders, affecting the quality of an investigation.”
Strangulation cases are difficult to investigate, document and prosecute. But the good news is that there are promising new best practices that have recently emerged. Research and experience from jurisdictions around the country shows how such practices can make a big difference to improve the response to strangulation when implemented. Gaal and Morrow decided to co-sponsor a community training to learn about those practices.

The training is unusual in that it will be cross-disciplinary – including first responders from law enforcement, the medical profession, social service agencies, and victim advocacy groups – all learning together side-by-side. The training will be conducted by Kelsey McKay, a nationally-recognized expert on the latest research and emerging best practices for first responders to strangulation. It is scheduled for Tuesday, November 14 from 9 am to 1 pm at the Wegmiller Auditorium at IU Health Bloomington Hospital. Both law enforcement and nurses will be able to receive continuing education credits for attending.

Following the training, Gaal and Morrow intend to keep working together to encourage implementation of those best practices by local first responders. They hope to have made significant progress by the time of a local domestic violence conference in the spring of next year.
In addition, the Prosecutor’s Office and Middle Way House are also moving forward with a public education campaign aimed at encouraging both victims and bystanders who are aware that domestic violence is occurring, to come forward and seek help. “You are not alone,” urges the message. “Together we can break the cycle.”

“You can either call 911 to report an incident to law enforcement, or you can call the Middle Way 24-hour crisis line just to talk to someone – whatever you are comfortable with,” said Morrow. “But people should know that there are resources available to help.”

“Our ultimate goal is to promote a more peaceful community free from domestic violence,” said Gaal. “And the way to do that is to work together positively and collaboratively to improve our local response.”

For Middle Way House’s free, confidential crisis line, call (812) 336-0846

2017 Domestic Violence Poster



Overview on State of Domestic Violence in Indiana

Indiana’s Position

Ending the Circle of Violence