Remarks by the Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas PANDA program

Remarks by the Orange County District Attorney Tony Rackauckas

PANDA program

April 8, 2016

He was just 10 years old. Ten.

While his mother was out, a 67-year-old trusted male relative molested and sodomized the boy. Those minutes must have felt like hours while he was being violated.

Afterward the boy managed to run to the bedroom, lock the door, and wait for his mother to come home. You can only imagine how long that felt for him.

As is customary for our Sexual Assault Unit, Deputy District Attorney Whitney Bokosky met with the victim’s mom and the boy after filing the case. Like so many of our child victims, this boy was completely shut down. He wouldn’t make eye contact and refused to speak to the prosecutor. She knew this was a case that would go to trial, because the crime carried a mandatory life sentence.

When Whitney found out that the only thing the boy ever wanted was a dog but they could not have one because of their living situation, she came up with an unconventional plan. She met with the boy in a park with her own two golden retrievers.

The goldens had him at “woof.” The boy lit up! The goldens made bearable the uncomfortable experience of having to relive the abuse and having to testify. The defendant was convicted of child molest and sodomy of a child under 10 and was sentenced to 25 years to life in prison. Good job Whitney.

The experience was relayed to then-Assistant District Attorney Rosanne Froeberg, and it eventually evolved into the current form of Pets Are Wonderful Support/ PAWS.

Here is a short video explaining the program.

You will get a chance to ask Kevin Marlin about Patriot and how he felt after he met with a victim for the first time.

As you can see – this program is paws-itively beneficial for crime victims. We hope that someday, we might be able to expand this program to comfort all victims, including adult sexual assault victims and victims of domestic violence.

They say the first rule of public speaking to never follow animals or children. I am in complete agreement. So in this case – they’ll be following me.

I know if I go too long, you will be “hounding” me to just let the dogs out!

So please raise the “ruff” for the most special guests – our PAWS and PANDA volunteers and their human friends!