April 16, 1984(202) 724-5933

WASHINGTON -- To commemorate April 15-21 as the fourth annual Crime Victims Week, President Reagan has honored four victims for their outstanding service on behalf of fellow victims.

During a White House ceremony Friday with Attorney General William French Smith, Reagan commended each victim for "turning your anguish into constructive action -- by establishing programs to aid your fellow citizens who have suffered as you did at the hand of criminals."

Assistant Attorney General Lois Haight Herrington, who introduced each victim to the President, emphasized "These courageous people represent the many victims who're moved on to become compassionate counselors and catalysts."

Mrs. Venice Justice, of Denver, catalysts for change in their Co., was honored for counseling victims as a volunteer in the Denver District Attorney's office. Mrs. Justice survived a brutal rape and assault during which one of her daughters was killed.

An Albuquerque, New Mexico man was commended for his efforts following an attack in which he was severely beaten and shot in the face. In addition to becoming a leader for the victims movement in New Mexico, Mr. Robert Romero offers counseling to victims at any time of the day or night.

Dr. William Kosiak, a Minneapolis, Minn. physician who was robbed at gunpoint twice in less than one year, was lauded for successfully lobbying the Minnesota legislature to enact a victims bill of rights last year.

A rape victim from Virginia, Anne Dawson, was recognized for her service as president of the statewide coalition of rape crisis centers a group which brought major changes in Virginia law, court rules and procedures for sexual assault. She is now working to reform the treatment of child sexual assault victims.

Upon presenting the honorees with the first Presidential awards to victims, Reagan said, "It wasn't too long ago that I, too, was a victim of crime. I was fortunate enough to receive special care and a great deal of attention."

Noting that many victims do not receive just, compassionate treatment, Reagan urged Congress to pass the Victims of Crime Assistance Act of 1984, a bill proposing that federal criminal fines be channelled into a fund for state victim compensation programs and victim/witness services.

The President also commended the initiatives of the first federal crime victims unit, established within the Justice Department this year.

Its activities have included a judges' training conference, the first federal sexual assault symposium, and conference on the sexual victimization of children. Groups working with the unit include the National Organization for Black Law Enforcement Executives the Center for Women Policy Studies, and the National Sheriffs' Association.