The National Children's Advocacy Center has presented a North Dakota prosecutor with its Outstanding Service Award in Prosecution.
The organization gave the award to North Dakota Assistant Attorney General Jon Byers on March 20. The award honors the contributions of prosecutors who "demonstrate excellence in the collaborative approach to protecting children from the devastating impact of child sexual abuse and exploitation."
Byers has worked at the North Dakota Attorney General's Office since 1992 and is a sexual abuse prosecutor and director of the Criminal and Regulatory Division. In his positions, Byers works with the Legislature and acts as legal adviser to the offender registration staff at the Bureau of Criminal Investigation.
"For more than 20 years, Jon has been tireless in his fight to ensure that child abusers are held accountable for their unspeakable and devastating crimes," Attorney General Wayne Stenehjem said in a statement. "His casework is often heartbreaking and never easy, but he doesn't stop."
The national group selected Byers for the award due to his collaborative work with professionals from a variety of disciplines in improving the community's response to child sexual abuse and exploitation, and his contributions to the children's advocacy center model in North Dakota.
A children's advocacy center is a child-focused, community-oriented facility in which child protection, social services, law enforcement, prosecution, victim advocacy and medical and mental personnel work together to provide a coordinated investigation of child abuse allegations. There are children's advocacy centers in Bismarck, Fargo and Minot.
In addition to prosecuting child abuse cases, Byers is a board member for the Children's Advocacy Centers of North Dakota and an advisory board member for the Sanford Health Dakota CAC in Bismarck.
"Jon was instrumental in getting the first CAC established here in North Dakota, and he continues to be a huge support and advocate of the collaborative work we do. He certainly deserves this recognition," Michael Bommarito, state coordinator for the Children's Advocacy Centers of North Dakota, said in a statement.
"Without a doubt, the work CACs do in North Dakota has certainly made doing my job easier. Their coordination of child abuse investigations results in greater quality and thoroughness, which means the right people get charged and convicted," Byers said in a statement.