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Advocate Impact:  Jackie Priessman

Since Jacqueline “Jackie” Priessman graduated from New Advocate Training in November 2012, she has been a valuable asset on her first case. Amelia, age 14, came into care due to sexual abuse allegations made against her father. Amelia and her family were living in California when the abuse occurred and the outcry was made. However, the case ended up in San Antonio when her father brought Amelia with him to Texas for a new job. Amelia’s mother remained in California, and had allowed Amelia to be alone with her father despite knowing about the abuse. California police notified the FBI; and, when Amelia’s father arrived in San Antonio, he was found with child pornography on his iPad. Amelia was taken into protective custody.

Once Jackie signed onto the case, she started advocating for Amelia to begin sexual abuse therapy, which had already been court ordered.  At the time, however, Amelia was only receiving family therapy with her mother via Skype. Due to Jackie’s tireless efforts over almost an entire year, CPS finally sent a sexual abuse therapy referral to the Rape Crisis Center.  Jackie immediately arranged for Amelia to begin her therapy. After only a few months, Amelia has already made progress. She is starting to heal and is being more forthcoming with her feelings. 

Since Jackie is a special investigator by trade, she was able to make contact with the FBI and the California police department, with the sole intent of ensuring that Amelia’s case does not fall through the cracks simply because she is not yet ready to share her story.  Jackie has worked to make certain that, if the FBI does not ask Amelia to testify in her fathers’ federal case, she is at least interviewed by ChildSafe so that the resulting forensic taped testimony can be submitted as evidence. Staying in continuous contact with the FBI investigator regarding the pending criminal case, Jackie has been able to keep all involved parties apprised of developments. 

When Amelia began to use her foster care status and her abuse history as an excuse to break school policies, Jackie was there to help her make better decisions. When Amelia was being victimized in her foster home, Jackie was there to advocate for a different placement. When a relative in California was identified as a potential placement, it was Jackie who pushed to get the home study process started. When that study was not approved, Jackie was there to help Amelia understand.  When Amelia changed placements four times, was moved to three different schools, and was assigned a new attorney time and again, Jackie was there to help with the transitions. And, when Amelia was left in San Antonio without any family to visit her, Jackie provided the constancy that otherwise would not have been present in this young girl’s life.  

Even though this legal case is still ongoing, Jackie has already made a huge impact. If it were not for her tireless advocacy, Amelia would probably not be doing as well as she is today. Trial on this case is scheduled in February 2014, and CPS is seeking termination of parental rights. Although Amelia’s current foster mother would like to adopt her, CPS is considering a family out of the country.  As the case continues, Jackie is there to help determine what is best for Amelia and to help her find her forever home.

Advocate Impact:  Jackie Priessman