A local victim advocate worries that the allegations against former Bedford County District Attorney Bill Higgins may affect victims of assault.
Since 1996, Your Safe Haven in Bedford County has supported victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, and other crimes. Their records show that in the last six months of 2017, the agency advocated for, and assisted at least three victims of sexual assault every week. In the first two months of this year, YSH has helped at least two victims a week.
Executive Director Beth Hickey calls the allegations against Higgins shocking and says whether they have validity will be proven down the road. However, she says charges like these shake trust in law enforcement, agencies that help victims, and the entire system. They can also affect victims’ willingness to come forward, as well as how residents react to allegations of abuse.
“We serve all victims in Bedford County, We don’t close the door based on your income, your race, your religion, your criminal record, for any reason. We are here for all victims of domestic violence sexual assault and other crimes,” she says.
Hickey says she wants to get the word out in Bedford County that it’s important to believe children when they make an allegation of sexual, but it’s also important to take allegations by adults seriously.
She says it’s not up to her agency to judge or disbelieve anyone that comes in requesting help.