FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
Wednesday, October 26, 2022
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez Announces the
Creation of New Gender-Based Violence Division
Will Include Domestic Violence, Sex Crimes, Human Trafficking, Victim Services and More;
Led by Experienced Prosecutor and National Expert on Intimate Partner Violence
Brooklyn District Attorney Eric Gonzalez today announced the creation of the Gender- Based Violence Division, which includes the Domestic Violence and Sex Crimes Bureaus, the Human Trafficking, Crimes Against Children and Victim Services Units, Family Justice Center operations and the U-Visa practice that allows non-citizen crime victims to remain lawfully in the United States. Cases handled by the new Division share common evidentiary issues, require a trauma-informed, victim-centered response and benefit from a unified, and not siloed, management. Assistant District Attorney Michelle Kaminsky will lead the Division in a newly created executive position.
District Attorney Gonzalez said, “Improving the way we approach gender-based violence has long been a goal of my administration and creating this new Division will go a long way toward achieving that. The same trauma-informed and survivor-centered approach is necessary when handling cases of sexual abuse, intimate partner violence or trafficking, and when providing support to survivors. I am confident that under this new structure and with guidance from a nationally recognized expert and veteran prosecutor, the Brooklyn DA’s Office will be able to better assist victims and more effectively bring offenders to justice.”
The District Attorney said that he is creating the Division in response to intersectionality of issues that the various Bureaus and Units share, the common evidentiary themes in their cases, and the critical need for a unified, coordinated and consistent response to the various federal and state remedies that are available to survivors of gender-based violence. In addition, victims of domestic violence or trafficking may also be victims of sex crimes.
Creating the new Division is also a response to the critical need to elevate the issue of gender-based violence, especially due to recently enacted regressive policies towards women and their bodily autonomy on the national level and the statistical link between gun violence and domestic violence. A review of data from the last five years in Brooklyn showed that 20% of gun offenders have a domestic violence history (an undercount, given that the analysis could not include sealed cases). The Division will also handle cases that fall under the Domestic Violence Survivors Justice Act, which provides for more lenient sentences and post-conviction relief to those who committed crimes while in a domestic violence relationship that was found to be a contributing factor as to why they committed the crime.
The District Attorney said that ADA Kaminsky is exceptionally well-suited to lead this important work. After joining the DA’s Office following her graduation from Brooklyn Law School, she has served the people of Brooklyn for three decades with incredible skill, compassion, and fairness. She most recently served as Chief of the Domestic Violence Bureau – the largest bureau in the Office – supervising the prosecution of approximately 10,000 cases per year. These cases are often among the most gut-wrenching and also the most legally challenging.
ADA Kaminsky is a sought-after expert, lecturing at conferences nationwide on the legal response to domestic violence. In 2012, she published a book on her experiences handling these cases which continues to be used in college and law school classes, and she is recognized as a leading voice on legislation and policy, working with the Obama and Biden Administrations. A respected trial attorney, she has tried 39 cases, including 20 domestic violence homicides. Many of these cases involved challenging defenses, including extreme emotional disturbance, battering and its effects, alcohol induced dementia, and self-defense. Among many significant cases, she tried a man who was convicted of murdering his ex-girlfriend in Brooklyn Bridge Park in a case that relied on cell site data and evidence from Facebook.