Prosecutor Teri Ames set to leave her post

MIDDLEBURY — The Addison County State’s Attorney’s Office will soon be in the market for a new, part-time prosecutor to focus on cases involving crimes against women.

Addison County Deputy State’s Attorney Teri Ames will be stepping down from her job this Wednesday, June 30, to spend more time with family.

Her 20-hour-per-week position was created around three years ago thanks to a federal grant through the U.S. Department of Justice. That grant was recently renewed through October of 2012, and Addison County State’s Attorney David Fenster hopes to quickly fill a position that has been paying big dividends.

Ames, he said, has greatly enhanced his office’s ability to prosecute cases involving domestic violence, stalking and sexual assault against women, and sexual abuse of children. Ames has helped prosecute cases in all of those categories during what has been her second stint with the Addison County State’s Attorney’s Office. She previously served as a deputy prosecutor from 2002-2003.

“We have seen an increase in cases of that nature since I have been here,” Ames said.

Current state funding provides for two lawyers in the Addison County office — Fenster and Addison County Deputy State’s Attorney Chris Perkett. It remains unknown whether the federal grant will be renewed after October of 2012. The grant is administered through Middlebury-based WomenSafe, an organization that provides programs and assistance to fight violence against women and children.

Naomi Smith, executive director of WomenSafe, said her organization will apply for another extension to the grant, which has helped not only prosecute domestic violence perpetrators but beef up education efforts and other related programs. The Department of Justice funding has amounted to around $845,000 over the past five years, according to Smith.

“The (prosecutor’s position) has made an amazing difference in cases handled by the state’s attorney’s office,” Smith said.

Reporter John Flowers is at johnf@addisonindependent.com.

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