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Rollins believes many domestic violence, child abuse cases are going unreported

Amid the COVID-19 lockdown, the Suffolk prosecutor says violence is happening in secret.

Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins called the situation "a ticking time bomb."
Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins called the situation "a ticking time bomb."Jessica Rinaldi/Globe Staff

Suffolk District Attorney Rachael Rollins said Sunday she believes many cases of domestic violence and child abuse and neglect are going unreported because victims are confined to their homes during the COVID-19 pandemic.

Speaking to WBZ-TV political analyst Jon Keller, Rollins said there has been an increase in domestic violence cases in the county during the lockdown imposed to slow the spread of the coronavirus. But she believes there are even more people who are becoming victims in their homes.

“We believe it’s even higher than the uptick we’ve seen, because with the fact that we’re all in our homes, this is a ticking time bomb, essentially, for victims of domestic violence, children who are abused and neglected,” Rollins said on the television program. “We’ve seen a large decline in the calls coming in for abuse and neglect of children, and we know that’s not true.”

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Rollins said it’s likely that there are many children whose suffering is going unnoticed because schools are closed and they are away from the “eyes, and ears, and love of teachers” and other people who are required to report their concerns about the treatment of children.

Rollins called for more public resources for people who are victims, and she raised the possibility of using hotels that are unoccupied to house those who need a safe place to go: “We have to adapt better for the most vulnerable of us, who need our help.”

Meanwhile, Rollins said she is trying to address the recent violence that has erupted during the lockdown. She said there were more than 20 incidents of gun violence in April ― double last year’s total.

Rollins reiterated her calls to keep violent offenders and suspects incarcerated, even as judges have ordered some people released to reduce the risk that the novel coronavirus will spread behind bars.

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“If they are too violent ― forget about this global pandemic ― to be in the community. I always have to look at public safety over public health. Period. End of story,” Rollins said.


Andy Rosen can be reached at andrew.rosen@globe.com. Follow him on Twitter @andyrosen.