Leaders recognized for helping abused children - WVVA TV Bluefield Beckley WV News, Weather and Sports

Leaders recognized for helping abused children

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DANIELS, WV (WVVA) -

Four leaders were recognized for their work helping abused children at the WVCAN conference at Glade Springs Resort on Wednesday. 

Sgt. Melissa Clemons with the West Virginia State Police, Dr. James Kaplan with the West Virginia Medical Examiner's Office, the Honorable Mary Ellen Griffith, and Trudy Laurenson of Lewisburg were honored. 

During Sgt. Clemons acceptance speech, she said her fight for children began almost 20 years ago during her first assignment off of road patrol. She said a young girl was waiting for her at the detachment that day with a story that would change her life forever. 

"Her father had abused her sexually for years and it was the first case where I was able to get a statement and put the perpetrator in jail. That's when I realized I wanted to do this and that I might be good at it," recalls Sgt. Clemons. 

To this day, Sgt. Clemons said it was one of the most horrifying cases she had ever worked. But through help from Family Court Judge Mary Ellen Griffith, she persevered. 

"It's horrible stories that we see and hear...children with broken bones, broken spirits, and broken hearts. But knowing that there are professionals like the ones gathered here to help and protect them, that keeps me going," added Judge Griffith. 

Sgt. Clemons concedes it wasn't the assignment she was hoping for back in 1996. But two decades later, she would not have it any other way.

"When you get to see it through and you've provided some level of closure to the victims, it gives you a good feeling." 

If you or someone you know suspects child abuse, you can call West Virginia's Child Abuse hotline toll-free at 1-800-352-6513. Calls can be anonymous. 

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