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Mayor, DA open domestic violence center in Queens

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Mayor Michael Bloomberg and Queens District Attorney Richard Brown unveiled a new center Tuesday for domestic violence victims next door to the Queens County Courthouse in Kew Gardens, where they vowed to aid all visitors regardless of their immigration status.

The $5 million Queens Family Justice Center, at 126-02 82nd Ave. in Kew Gardens, will include volunteers from 18 city public and nonprofit agencies, the mayor said. Visitors will not be questioned on whether they are legal American residents, he said.

"Domestic violence creates financial, emotional and at times physical scars," Bloomberg said. "There are bad people in our city and our world and there are people who need our help. We will not walk away from them."

The center is the second of its kind in the five boroughs. The city already has opened a domestic violence center in Brooklyn and is in the process of creating one in the Bronx, the mayor said.

The DA said one in three women suffers some sort of abuse during her lifetime. But he said the borough leads the city in domestic violence convictions with 94 percent of offenders being found guilty.

"Those struggling to break away from abusive relationships will find support in the criminal justice system," Brown said.

Borough President Helen Marshall said five languages are spoken among the center's employees. Queens, which is the nation's most diverse county, is the home of residents of 117 nationalities. An estimated 167 languages are spoken in the borough.

The U.S. Justice Department has given $1.1 million to the center to support its operations and Los Angeles Dodgers Manager Joe Torre, who grew up in an abusive household, funded the center's children's room — Margaret's Place — through his Safe at Home Foundation.

Children who have been abused or live in abusive households can receive counseling in the room, Torre said.

"Youngsters should know they are not in it by themselves," he said. "Hopefully, down the road we can eliminate domestic violence. But nothing that is worthwhile is easy."

Bloomberg said family-related domestic abuse incidents have declined 21 percent during the past six years and that homicides among intimate partners has dropped 51 percent during that time period.

Reach reporter Nathan Duke by e-mail at nduke@timesledger.com or by phone at 718-229-0300, Ext. 156.

Posted 6:39 pm, October 10, 2011
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