Date: May 23, 2019
Citizen Information and Resources
CHESTERFIELD COUNTY, VA — After 33 years of working in a Juvenile and Domestic Relations courtroom, Judge Bonnie C. Davis knows firsthand how challenging it is to prepare a child to testify about alleged abuse. Her experience and passion for helping children led her to envision a neutral, comfortable place in Chesterfield where that process could occur, and now that place not only exists, but it bears her name.
The Davis Child Advocacy Center is one of 18 throughout Virginia and only three child advocacy centers in the metro Richmond area with the other two located in the City of Richmond and Henrico County. The center is a child-focused, facility-based program where interviews of children can be conducted by trained professionals from multiple disciplines, including social services and police. This approach allows the center and its multidisciplinary team to provide comprehensive services, such as prosecution, mental health and victim advocacy, all under one roof. Since its opening in January 2018, the center has seen more than 340 children.
Davis said she is excited and overwhelmed with gratitude that the Board of Supervisors decided the facility should be named in recognition of her unceasing passion for helping children and families impacted by abuse or neglect. However, she noted that she feels immensely honored not by having a building named after her, but for being associated with a program that is fulfilling a vital purpose.
“It is very difficult most of the time for police interviewers or social workers to get information from children once there has been a report of abuse made to the authorities,” Davis said, noting she worked a case as a Chesterfield County prosecutor in which it took weeks to gather information from the child. “Somewhere deep inside, I think they know they have to do this, to testify, and you just have to help them however you can. The Child Advocacy Center is a safe, neutral place where we can provide that support.”
The center and others like it are an important and unique resource to aid in both prosecution of cases and support for families affected by child abuse or neglect. More than 800,000 children nationwide are confirmed as victims of abuse or neglect every year, according to the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Virginia. Approximately 95% of victims know the offender, yet a significant number of children who have been abused do not disclose until adulthood.
About The Davis Child Advocacy Center
The Davis Child Advocacy Center is a child- and family-friendly location where community professionals come together to help children who have reported abuse or neglect.
Separate from the police department and the courthouse, this facility provides a less formal environment where joint investigations are conducted by specially trained investigators from Social Services and the Police Department, while forensic interviews are primarily conducted by the Child Advocacy Center forensic interviewer. The staff at the Child Advocacy Center meets with the family, providing referrals to appropriate services and advocacy for the children and their supportive caregivers.
All cases are reviewed by a multidisciplinary team of collaborative partners to ensure families receive high quality services that meet best practice standards. Partners in the center include Chesterfield County Police, Department of Social Services, Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney, Victim/Witness Assistance Program, the Community Services Board and Bon Secours Forensic Nurses Program.
About Judge Bonnie C. Davis
Raised in Ettrick, Judge Bonnie C. Davis will tell you she is proud to be from Chesterfield County and her 39 years of service to the county certainly show it. After graduating from Longwood College in 1971, she returned to Chesterfield to teach eighth and ninth grade English at Salem Church Junior High. Six years later, she decided to trade her classroom for a seat in a classroom at the University of Richmond School of Law where she pursued her childhood dream of becoming a lawyer.
Following law school, her career led her back to Chesterfield once again where she took a job with a local law firm then later joined the Office of the Commonwealth’s Attorney. As an assistant Commonwealth’s attorney, she served a decade as a prosecutor in the Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court before being appointed to the bench in the 12th District Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court in 1993 as the county’s first female judge. In 2010, she became the courts chief judge, presiding over cases until she retired in 2016.
Known for her approachable demeanor in the courtroom, Davis credits her teaching experience with preparing her not only to handle emotional cases that involved abused or neglected children but to help put those children at ease. She said, “I can’t imagine any experience that would have prepared me better for the courtroom than teaching.”