An independent news publication of
United Way of Lancaster County


YWCA, CAP’s Domestic Violence Services partner to expand free legal services for victims

Seen at YWCA Lancaster are, from left: YWCA Lancaster Sexual Assault Prevention and Counseling Center legal advocate Emily Gracie and director Mandy Billman; and attorney Monica Baturin, managing attorney Rachel Pinsker and director Christine Gilfillan, all of Domestic Violence Services at Community Action Partnership of Lancaster County. (Source: YWCA Lancaster)

YWCA Lancaster and Community Action Partnership of Lancaster County have launched an expanded free legal service for victims of domestic violence and sexual assault.

The Legal Assistance for Victims program supports “comprehensive direct legal services” in civil and criminal cases to victims of sexual assault, domestic violence, dating violence or stalking, the organizations said in a joint announcement this week.

The program is a collaboration between YWCA’s Sexual Assault Prevention & Counseling Center and CAP’s Domestic Violence Services.

In connection with the launch, each program has added a staff member. Attorney Monica Baturin has been hired at Domestic Violence Services, while Emily Gracie will serve as a legal advocate at the YWCA’s center. Both began work this month.

The Legal Assistance for Victims program is made possible by a three-year, $500,000 grant from the U.S Department of Justice’s Office on Violence Against Women. U.S. Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., and U.S. Rep. Lloyd Smucker helped secure the funding, YWCA and CAP said.

The two nonprofits had hoped to have the program up and running in the spring. However, due to delays at the federal level, the funding didn’t arrive until March, which pushed back the timetable for recruitment and hiring, YWCA spokesman Aaron Spangler said.

The grant is eligible for a two-year extension after the first three years are up. After that, YWCA and CAP will look to maintain it through other funding sources.