Will County Children’s Advocacy Center victim interviews increasing: forensic interviewer hits career milestone

Will County Children’s Advocacy Center forensic interviewer, Jaclyn Lundquist, MSW.

By BRIAN STANLEY – bstanley@shawmedia.com

JOLIET – Jaclyn Lundquist can’t explain why she’s able to bond quickly with children, but Will County prosecutors are grateful for her gift.

“I think I mesh with kids better than I do with adults. We’ve just always gotten along,” Lundquist said Thursday. “I was always [interested] in crisis intervention and it doesn’t get more crisis than this.”

Last week, Lundquist conducted her 2,000th victim-sensitive interview for the Will County Children’s Advocacy Center, which assists investigations of sexual and physical abuse.

“She’s on her way to 3,000, but she already belongs in the Hall of Fame,” State’s Attorney James Glasgow said. “Jackie is one of the best forensic interviewers in the state. The information she gets goes a long way to giving attorneys what’s needed in court.”

Lundquist started with the Advocacy Center 14 years ago as a case manager, but was soon drafted as the backup interviewer and sent for specialized training.

“I fell in love with it,” Lundquist said. “Whether I’m talking to a 5-year-old or a teenager, I’m giving kids a voice.”

Lundquist performed a majority of the 425 interviews the center conducted in 2015, nearly 100 more cases than the year before. Glasgow said the increase in reported cases was likely a result of several factors.

“The cases that come here are only a fraction of those in our society. To look at it optimistically, more parents are becoming educated how to spot these things and come forward when there’s a change in behavior with a child,” Glasgow said.

Lundquist said relaxing with her own family in her off hours has allowed her to keep the details of cases she’s worked on from affecting her.

“You can shut it on and off. The brain protects you,” she said.

The center plans to hire a second interviewer, and Glasgow would like for the facility to eventually move from its downtown office building to a residential setting.

“I think reducing the [clinical appearance] would lower the stress for a child. They’d come up to the house, knock on the door and there’s a couch and therapy dog where they can just talk to Jackie,” Glasgow said.

Instead of being in a room with a large one-way mirror with police on the other side, cameras could broadcast the victim’s interview to another room in the house.

The state’s attorney also is considering renaming of the advocacy center, which would require a change in state law.

“To call it the Child Sex Abuse Center is more graphic, but more people have to know what they do and how important it is to support that,” Glasgow said.