LEXINGTON, Ky. - Domestic violence victims in Fayette County can now seek assistance from a central location where they can file emergency petitions, talk to authorities and get connected with community resources.
The office, called Amanda's Center, is named after Amanda Ross, who was gunned down by her fiancé, Steve Nunn, in 2009. Nunn, a former state lawmaker and son of former Gov. Louie B. Nunn, pleaded guilty to her murder last year.
The Lexington Herald-Leader reports Amanda's Center is on the first floor of the Fayette County District Courthouse in downtown Lexington.
Officials say it's been confusing for victims to navigate numerous law enforcement agencies and assistance groups in the past.
Following Ross' murder, a group of people involved in domestic violence relief realized the county needed a "centralized point of contact," where victims could be guided through the steps to report and escape domestic violence, Fayette County Sheriff Kathy Witt said.
"We chose our courthouse, our halls of justice, for that centralized point," she said.
The office occupies two rooms in the Fayette District Court clerk's office that previously were used by the sheriff's office and the Lexington Division of Police.
Amanda's Center will be staffed by employees from the Fayette County sheriff's office. Services include safety planning, evidence collection and victim's assistance. Victims will be able to fill out petitions for emergency protective orders there, and EPOs and domestic violence orders will be served by sheriff's deputies who work on domestic violence cases full-time.
Intake specialists can refer victims who come to Amanda's Center to numerous shelters and counseling services such as the Bluegrass Domestic Violence Program, the Bluegrass Rape Crisis Center and Legal Aid of the Bluegrass.
"If they need somewhere to stay, we can try and get that for them. If they need child care, we can get that for them, also," said Crystal Happy, a sheriff's office employee who will staff the center after-hours.
Amanda Ross' death has prompted changes to domestic violence laws in Kentucky. Amanda's Law, which passed in 2010, allows domestic violence victims to be alerted by a GPS tracking system when their aggressors get too close.
Ross' mother, Diana Ross, was among those who spoke during the recent ribbon-cutting ceremony for the new center.
"I know Amanda would be honored to become the name and the face for every victim of domestic violence," Diana Ross said.
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