Meet Scott Huffman
This entry is part of a new series where WVCAN is bringing recognition to everyday heroes throughout the state. Each week through the end of the year, we’ll be highlighting a different team member – CAC staff or allied professional working with a center – who is a hero to us and the kids they serve.
Meet Sgt. Scott Huffman with the West Virginia State Police. Sgt. Huffman is a team member at SARAH’s House Child Advocacy Center and has been in this field for 15 years.
What drew you to this work? In general, for those that have been victimized and are not able to help themselves. When I was growing up, I was a witness to and been a subject of bullying a little bit. I want to help those who can’t help themselves.
What’s your favorite thing about your job? The most rewarding thing is being able to solve a bigger case. When you can assist in a child’s crime – it’s satisfying to solve a sexual assault case. Given their age and innocence taken, they can never get that back. There’s obviously a lot more than what we do, but to help verify and prove that their statements are being heard… to be part of that process is rewarding.
Tell me what an average work day looks like. I’m actually the detachment commander – so I take a lot of cases. I’m working two major sexual assault cases right now. Primarily, it’s a lot of administrative work. I have to read reports for accuracy – did they do a thorough investigation and is there any follow-up to be done? For cases that are forwarded to the prosecutor to be prosecuted, scheduling court dates and making sure they’re in court when they need to be. Like every detachment in the state, manpower is low. I still respond to emergency calls too.
Can you share a de-identified story about a child who inspired you? I’m more driven than inspired. There’s been a couple sexual abuse cases that have stuck with me. I had a case where a little girl around 10 years old was being abused by her mother’s boyfriend. It was very clear that she was coached by someone before the interview. After a couple questions, she had tears in her eyes and you could tell she was lying. She was afraid of what was going to happen to her. She had probably told someone at some point and nothing was done about it. She was kept there and the abuse got worse. When I got her, she had a scar around her neck like looked like she had been hung. We eventually got her out of the house and into some counseling where she made a full disclosure. She finally admitted the boyfriend living at the residence had choked her with a scarf. It took a lot of courage. She was so worried about her little brother. She didn’t want to be separated from him or leave him in that environment. They were put into foster care and eventually adopted together – and are healthy and happy now and doing well in school.
What keeps you up at night? All of the above. And determining when to interview the suspect… now or waiting for more evidence. There are pros and cons to both. It’s like rolling a dice – once you get a case and request video surveillance, etc., do you interview the suspect now or wait until you get the information back? Every suspect is different. The worst are in sexual assault cases. You get one shot, generally, at an interview. It’s a lot of pressure to get as much evidence as you can so the child doesn’t have to get on the stand at trial. You never know until you’re done. That what keeps you up at night.
What’s the best thing about working as a multidisciplinary team on child abuse investigations? The best thing is information sharing at our monthly MDIT meetings. It’s interesting to hear other people’s takes on it. Our job stops after the investigation, prosecution, and court. You don’t know what happens after the criminal part. It’s good to come to a meeting and hear a therapist say how things are going with the child, and that they’ve disclosed more. It’s good to be part of getting that child out of the environment and getting help.
What was your first paying job? I was 12 and my mom arranged for me to help the elderly and at the church. For $3 an hour, I mowed, raked leaves, etc.
Best stress relief. I read motivational and inspirational books. I work out a lot too – CrossFit and lift weights. I recently ran a marathon with my 4-year-old son. I pushed him in a stroller, but he ran about 3 miles of it altogether. I did an Ironman recently too, and I play indoor soccer.
Favorite childhood memory. Playing soccer year round
Favorite pizza toppings. Pepperoni definitely