Rex Schlicht, a Woonsocket, South Dakota, native and second-year law student at the University of South Dakota Knudson School of Law, is the inaugural law fellow for 2021-2022. Schlicht will assist in training legal professionals and particularly law students in the foundational principles of a trauma-informed court system. This approach works to reduce instances of re-traumatization of victims of child abuse and neglect while focusing on prosecutorial success. Schlicht will additionally provide research assistance for CPCM initiatives and legislative efforts by board members and partner agencies.

Schlicht is the president of the Family Law and Child Advocacy Club, is a volunteer judge in the Clay County Teen Court and is a member of the Moot Court Board. He graduated from Dakota Wesleyan University in May 2020 with his Bachelor of Arts in Criminal Justice. This past summer, he interned with the Beadle County State’s Attorney’s Office in Huron where he gained experience in legal research and diversion court. He worked with professors, legislators, clergymen and other students in his undergraduate work to create a bill to include clergymen as mandatory reporters. He is involved in several other extracurricular activities such as student organizations, track team, 4H/FFA and shared personal experiences which shaped his interest in this content area.

“Children are the future and are the hope for making tomorrow better,” Schlicht said. “However, children are a vulnerable population and have little control over what happens in life. Children deserve every chance to live their lives to the fullest extent and advocating for children allows a person to give a voice to those who often don't have one.”

Schlicht said he feels the law fellow program will give him greater insight into the field of child advocacy, and also build further connections with the advocacy community. He hopes the experience will provide a network of attorneys who could serve as mentors and increase personal knowledge he hopes to use in his future legal career. He wants to eventually practice in an underserved area of rural South Dakota.

“We are happy to welcome Rex to the CPCM Team,” Tracy Thomes, Child & Adult Advocacy Studies (CAASt) coordinator, said. “We look forward to developing the law fellow program into a robust experience for young attorneys who have a passion for helping children and families. There is a great deal of work to do in this area and sharing information about trauma-informed courtrooms with law students will hopefully continue to increase successful prosecutions and work with multidisciplinary team members and victims to continue the process of healing.”

The Center for the Prevention of Child Maltreatment (CPCM) is the first organization to join local, tribal, state and federal efforts in the fight against child sexual abuse and other forms of maltreatment in South Dakota. CPCM was born out of the work of Jolene’s Law Task Force, established through SDCL 2-6-31 and its comprehensive 10-year plan to help South Dakotans know of, respond to and prevent child sexual abuse. The center’s director is Carrie Sanderson.

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