November 30, 2007
Nampa’s New Forensic Unit Dedicated Friday in Memory of Slain Child
By Kristin Rodine, The Idaho Statesman, Boise
Nov. 30--A photograph of a beaming little girl, playing on a swing, greets people who visit the Nampa Family Justice Center's new forensic medical unit.
The girl, Ellen Marie Sinclair, was killed in August 2001, a few months before her third birthday. She represents the mission and the inspiration for the unit and those who work at the justice center, Executive Director Rebecca Lovelace said. On Friday, the medical unit will be dedicated in her memory.
"In her little life, she inspired so much," Lovelace said.
Nampa Police Cpl. Angela Weekes, who investigated Sinclair's murder, said the case inspired her to spearhead efforts to create the city-run justice center, which provides "wraparound services" to meet a wide range of domestic violence and abuse victims' needs in one safe, welcoming environment.
Pete Sinclair, Ellen Marie's father, plans to attend Friday's dedication.
"I think it's awesome," he said Thursday evening. "It kind of gives my daughter a place in the community keeps her story alive."
He noted the family justice center is "just about a block" from the house where his little girl was fatally injured.
The downtown Nampa building houses offices for most of the professionals that victims of abuse need -- police officers, a prosecutor, legal aid, social workers, counselors and clergy. Now it will have nurses, a physician's assistant and a medical facility to offer care and collect evidence in abuse and domestic violence cases.
"It's a crucial piece for us -- one more step we can cover without asking victims to go to another location, tell their story again," Weekes said.
It's especially appropriate to dedicate the medical unit to Sinclair, Weekes said, because "so much of her case was based on forensic medical findings." Those findings helped convict Joshua Blue King, 27, of murdering the little girl while he was babysitting her in her Nampa home. King was sentenced in 2003 to 15 years to life in prison.
The forensic medical unit initially will have two major missions: examinations of adult sexual assault victims and physical exams of children entering foster care. Within a year, Lovelace said, it will have trained staff available to provide exams for children victimized by sexual abuse.
Since it opened two years ago, the Nampa Family Justice Center has served about 2,500 adults and children, Lovelace said. She said the center's success has exceeded her expectations, largely because of strong support from city leaders and an all-for-one spirit among those who work there.
Many agencies partner to help people through the justice center, and Weekes said there is an amazing lack of conflict. Partners include the Idaho Department of Health and Welfare, Mercy Medical Center and Saltzer Medical Group.
"Everyone agrees: It's all about the clients," she said.
Kristin Rodine: 377-6447
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