A pro­tec­tor of chil­dren

Julie Drake, who died last week, rev­o­lu­tion­ized the city’s han­dling of child abuse cases and sought new ways to pre­vent abuse, a for­mer col­league writes

Baltimore Sun - - MARYLAND VOICES - Mar­garet T. Burns, Bal­ti­more The writer is a for­mer spokes­woman in the Bal­ti­more City state’s at­tor­ney’s of­fice.

Bal­ti­more lost a pas­sion­ate cham­pion and fierce ad­vo­cate for child wel­fare last week. Julie Drake, a long­time city prose­cu­tor, so­cial worker and for­mer chief of the Fam­ily Vi­o­lence Di­vi­sion for the state’s at­tor­ney’s of­fice, a lawyer who pros­e­cuted many of Bal­ti­more’s most heinous child mur­der­ers and stood up for the city’s most vul­ner­a­ble cit­i­zens, died af­ter a bat­tle with cancer. Julie was a child wel­fare vi­sion­ary for the preven­tion, prose­cu­tion and con­vic­tion of child abuse and ar­chi­tect of the Fa­tal­ity Re­view Team lo­cated at Johns Hop­kins Hos­pi­tal. For the past five years she served as an as­sis­tant pro­fes­sor at the Univer­sity of Mary­land School of So­cial Work.

Julie was skilled in the court­room, ag­gres­sively pre­par­ing and ar­gu­ing her cases. But she was al­ways think­ing about preven­tion and the lessons learned from ev­ery child abuse and child mur­der prose­cu­tion. Her mis­sion was to pre­vent lives lost to abuse, and she worked quickly to close loop­holes in laws that en­dan­gered chil­dren. She was a re­lent­less ad­vo­cate who of­ten ral­lied an army of elected of­fi­cials, law en­force­ment of­fi­cers and health pro­fes­sion­als to im­prove a pro­to­col or reg­u­la­tion needed to pro­tect chil­dren.

What­ever the chal­lenge, Julie al­ways knew how to achieve change. Her lead­er­ship in early in­ter­ven­tion in phys­i­cal child abuse cases and in de­vel­op­ing prose­cu­tion pro­to­cols led to a dra­matic de­crease in cases of child homi­cide and felony child abuse in the city over the past two decades.

Julie came to Bal­ti­more with a so­cial work de­gree from the Univer­sity of Wis­con­sin. While se­cur­ing her master’s de­gree, she con­tin­ued her ed­u­ca­tion at the Univer­sity of Bal­ti­more law school. In the late 1990s, Julie saw the need to link the prose­cu­tion of do­mes­tic vi­o­lence and child abuse, hav­ing be­come keenly aware of the re­la­tion­ship be­tween the two. With ap­proval of then-State’s At­tor­ney Pa­tri­cia Jes­samy, she formed a prose­cu­tion team of li­censed so­cial work­ers from the Univer­sity of Mary­land to work with her fam­ily vi­o­lence unit to help fam­i­lies ad­dress child abuse cases. Court-or­dered treat­ment and early in­ter­ven­tion were the best ways to pre­vent fu­ture vi­o­lence, she knew.

Julie never stopped learn­ing. She con­sulted with the city’s top neu­rol­o­gists to un­der­stand the dam­age to a baby’s brain in shaken-baby-syn­drome cases. Her re­gret was that she could not con­vince city prose­cu­tors to merge the han­dling of child abuse and do­mes­tic vi­o­lence cases with sex of­fense prose­cu­tions, say­ing it would stream­line po­lice and prose­cu­tion re­sources and tap tech­nol­ogy for bet­ter-co­or­di­nated prose­cu­tions.

When­ever Julie ob­served a loop­hole in the law, she sought to close it, of­ten tes­ti­fy­ing in An­napo­lis. She pounced on op­por­tu­ni­ties to bol­ster child pro­tec­tion reg­u­la­tions, as she did in work­ing with state of­fi­cials to close gaps she no­ticed af­ter the Julie Drake, the for­mer chief of the Bal­ti­more State’s At­tor­ney’s Of­fice’s Felony Fam­ily Vi­o­lence Di­vi­sion, died last week. scald­ing death of a young boy. She dra­mat­i­cally il­lus­trated how dog adop­tion guide­lines were tougher than state reg­u­la­tions for adopt­ing a child, re­sult­ing in new state laws.

Julie was a gen­er­ous friend and ac­tive in her Orig­i­nal North­wood com­mu­nity. She of­ten opened her home for brunch and din­ner and lively con­ver­sa­tion. She was a won­der­ful sto­ry­teller, which en­dowed her per­sua­sive ar­gu­ments. She adored her cats and loved an­i­mals, and she was a world trav­eler.

As a mother of four, one day I asked Julie, who had such a deep pas­sion for chil­dren, if she re­gret­ted not hav­ing chil­dren of her own. She an­swered qui­etly yet earnestly: “I have many chil­dren. I have al­ways con­sid­ered that ev­ery child wel­fare case prose­cu­tion in­volved one of my chil­dren,” a sen­ti­ment borne out by the vigor and pas­sion with which she pros­e­cuted and taught about child abuse.

AMY DAVIS/BAL­TI­MORE SUN

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.