Special Victims

Special victims division

Special Victims Division

The Special Victims Division handles many of the most difficult and sensitive – as well as important – cases in the office. Included in the responsibilities of the prosecutors and investigators of the SVD are prosecuting cases involving allegations of sexual assault against adults and children, as well as allegations of human trafficking, domestic violence, elder abuse and animal abuse. It also handles all cases involving crimes against children, including homicide. It also prosecutes cases involving juvenile defendants, both in juvenile court and in Superior Court when Georgia law requires it for certain violent offenses. Also included are units that handle cold cases involving sexual assault kits and a unit that reviews old convictions and sentences to ensure they are just, and seeking exoneration or sentence adjustment when appropriate.

The Terrell Williams - Crimes Against Children Unit

Madam District Attorney is the mother of two beautiful daughters. It is with her daughters in mind that she decided to create this 2021 unit.

The District Attorney has personally prosecuted many cases that involved the molestation and killing of children. One of the many cases that touched her involved an eight-month-old beautiful African American boy, Terrell Williams. Terrell Williams traveled to Atlanta, Georgia with this young mother and her mother's boyfriend. One morning Ms. Williams, Terrell's mom, left the hotel they were staying at to get the young couple breakfast. Eight-month-old Terrell began to cry incessantly for the comfort of his mother. To quiet the baby, the mother's boyfriend violently shook him to death causing his brain to literally shake in his head. When Terrell's mom came to the room she found her child not breathing. He was rushed to the hospital in Sandy Springs, Georgia where he perished. As a young prosecutor, Ms. Willis gained justice for that baby but it never seemed to be enough. His memory and the memory of so many more innocent lives remain with her.

Based on DA Willis' experiences as a prosecutor she understands the challenges a prosecutor faces when having to prosecute these crimes. She has committed to putting together a team of the most experienced and well-trained prosecutors in the country to work with these most special victims.

This division will handle all cases that involve our children as the victims of crime, where the Defendant is also not a child. These prosecutors and staff will have the most advanced training on issues surrounding children who have been victimized. This unit will be one that treats those little ones suffering from the impact of trauma with love.

Sex Crimes Unit

This Unit prosecutes sex crimes, including but not limited to rape, statutory rape, aggravated sodomy, stalking, and aggravated stalking. This Unit’s prosecutors and investigators are trained to help victims through a scary and devastating time. They have specialized training in investigating and prosecuting sex crimes, including the use of DNA evidence and forensic science.

The Sex Crimes Unit will treat victims with the respect and dignity they deserve. Too many times, the criminal justice system treats victims of sex crimes as less deserving of justice than others. The District Attorney and her staff are committed to ensuring that all victims – including those who are victims of sex crimes – are treated as people deserving of respect and justice and that they are not re-victimized by the criminal justice system.

Our Victim-Witness Advocates are a key part of ensuring that the concerns of victims are addressed and that their needs are met. These advocates will meet with victims and witnesses to learn about their concerns, their needs and to help them through the process of seeking justice. If you believe you have been a victim of a sex crime, please know that this office – including the District Attorney, the courtroom prosecutors, the investigators, and the Victim-Witness Advocates, are here to support you and help you get justice and closure.

Adult Sexual Assault Unit

The District Attorney established the Adult Sexual Assault Unit and has staffed it with prosecutors and investigators who are experts at building and prosecuting cases involving allegations of sexual assault against adult victims. Sexual assault cases are often among the most challenging to bring justice to, because the cases often do not have witnesses beyond the victim and the accused, and often both parties knew each other at the time of the alleged crime. The experts in the unit are committed to working with victims in ways that allow them to seek justice while understanding the special challenges that sexual assault victims often face when doing so.

The Brenda Baham - Domestic Violence Unit

Brenda Baham

As a very young woman, the District Attorney had the life-changing experience of losing her close family friend, Brenda Baham, to an act of domestic violence committed by Ms. Baham’s husband. She has never forgotten the sight of Ms. Baham’s body on a table in the morgue.

Ms. Baham’s murder was one of the inspirations for the District Attorney’s decision to become a prosecutor, and her dedication to helping victims and their families get justice. She has named the specialized domestic violence unit she created in honor of Ms. Baham, and has hired dedicated, experienced attorneys and investigators to work on behalf of domestic violence victims.

The attorneys, investigators in Victim-Witness Advocates are specially trained to help victims of domestic violence cases and to prosecute the offenders. They treat every victim with dignity and respect and work with them in a very difficult time to get justice.

SB440 Unit

This innovative Unit is the first of its kind and one that the District Attorney created based on her experience prosecuting violent crimes, often involving young defendants. “SB 440” is the number of a bill passed by the Georgia General Assembly that requires minors charged with murder, armed robbery with a firearm, rape, voluntary manslaughter, aggravated sexual battery, aggravated sodomy and/or aggravated child molestation to be tried in Superior Court as an adult. This removes the juvenile defendant from juvenile court, where the goal is focused on rehabilitation and confidentiality, and puts them in the adult criminal justice system.

This unit is staffed by specially trained prosecutors and investigators. It also includes child psychologists and Victim-Witness Advocates. The team specializes in cases involving juvenile defendants accused of violent crimes and determines whether charging them as adults with crimes that result in long prison sentences and a permanent criminal record is the appropriate course of action.

Serious violent crimes committed by juveniles is a societal problem that requires a holistic look at each case to determine the appropriate course of action and the proper charging decision. This specialized unit provides that careful look.

Human Trafficking

Atlanta has one of the worst human trafficking problems in the United States. As a result, the District Attorney has created a unit focused on bringing to justice those who engage in this illegal activity that so often victimizes young people, especially women and girls.

Too often, victims of human trafficking are treated as criminals themselves. The prosecutors and investigators in this unit are specially trained to identify and protect trafficking victims. This unit will also work with police departments to train officers to spot signs of human trafficking so that victims can be identified and perpetrators brought to justice. The unit will also coordinate with police, businesses and community groups to help them learn how to spot signs of trafficking and to report suspected trafficking to the authorities.

Sexual Assault Kit Initiative (S.A.K.I.)

For too long, law enforcement did not sufficiently follow up on evidence of sex crimes obtained via sexual assault kits. The District Attorney’s S.A.K.I. unit is changing that. The District Attorney's office has won a multi-million dollar grant from the United States Department of Justice to process sexual assault kits, compare DNA evidence to databases, and prosecute identified offenders.
The District Attorney and the professionals assigned to the attorneys S.A.K.I. unit always remember that each sexual assault kit represents a victim of a terrible crime. The office is committed to achieving justice for victims, even when the crime was committed many years ago.

Juvenile Court

No unit of the office is more important than the prosecutors and investigators who handle cases in juvenile court. They have the critical job of protecting victims while also working to make sure children caught up in the criminal justice system are given the help they need to turn their lives around.

The District Attorney is bringing a new approach to the Juvenile Court unit, bringing in experienced staff and new approaches that both improve public safety and the outcomes for juveniles accused of crimes. New evidence-based initiatives that seek to provide effective treatment and alternatives for juvenile offenders will be brought to Fulton County, and the “revolving door” that has often characterized Juvenile Court will stop.

These new initiatives will improve the lives of juvenile offenders and public safety, by giving children in the criminal justice system a real opportunity to turn their lives around before they become adults who victimize their fellow citizens. The District Attorney and community partners will be announcing new programs in the coming months.