Child abuse is a tragedy. But possibly even more tragic is when those who are tasked with caring for and assisting child abuse victims, end up using them instead as a means to an end. Like Melodie Ann Brooks, the former director of the Monroe County Child Advocacy Center (CAC). She is charged with embezzling funds that would otherwise have provided abused and neglected children much needed services.
According to court documents, Brooks is said to have made unauthorized purchases with the non-profit’s money that exceeded $24,000 over a three year period. She has been arraigned on a charge of embezzlement by an agent or trustee of $20,000 or more. Under Michigan law, this is a felony punishable by up to 10 years in prison.
Pat Kosanovich, a nurse who served as the CAC’s director for several years after she retired from Mercy Memorial Hospital, says that the purpose of the CAC is to bring together members of a number of county agencies.
This includes police officers, counselors, prosecutors, doctors, and others who are directly involved in the lives and cases of children alleged to be abused or neglected within Monroe County. By having this kind of central location, the agency can provide children with a comfortable setting in which to talk about what happened to them. Otherwise, children would need to be transported to multiple locations to discuss their abuse.
In addition to centering the investigation on the children in a way that is non-threatening, the agency also helps the families to get necessary counseling, therapy, or other services.
According to the Attorney General’ s Office, the case was referred to the Michigan State Police by Michigan Charitable Gaming Association (MICGA). The purpose of MICGA is, in part, to maintain the long-term stability of charitable fundraising in Michigan through legislation, collaboration, and education. How the MICGA became aware of the alleged misuse of funds by Brooks is not yet publicly known.
Monroe’s Michigan State Police (MSP) post commander, who is regularly involved with the CAC, said the investigation against Ms. Brooks was conducted by MSP detectives from the Special Investigation Section, First District Headquarters. Due to a number of instances of conflict of interest, certain outside agencies have become involved as well.