|FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE||OVC||MONDAY, APRIL 19, 1999||202/307-0703|
ATTORNEY GENERAL PAYS TRIBUTE TO VICTIM ADVOCATES
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Attorney General Janet Reno today honored five individuals and three organizations with the annual Crime Victim Service Award, the highest federal award given for outstanding service to crime victims. Reno presented the awards at a ceremony, which coincided with the fourth anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing.
The ceremony also marks the Justice Department's commemoration of National Crime Victims Rights Week, which takes place April 25 to May1. Many of the award recipients have experienced personal tragedy and become advocates on behalf of other victims.
"By recognizing the efforts of these outstanding victim advocates, we honor all those whose work touches the lives of victims and those whose lives have been touched by crime," said Attorney General Janet Reno.
National Crime Victims' Rights Week provides an opportunity for thousands of local communities across the country to pay tribute to the millions of Americans who have been victimized by crime and those who strive to help them heal. "These brave and committed victim advocates range from young to old," said Kathryn Turman, Acting Director, Office for Victims of Crime (OVC). "One of this year's awardees is a young woman who survived a terrible drunk driving crash and numerous complicated surgeries to speak out against the dangers of drunk driving. An elderly man, shot during an armed robbery and left paralyzed, has spent more than 20 years of his life working to improve services and rights for crime victims."
OVC is the federal government's chief advocate for crime victims and their families. In addition to funding state victim compensation and victim assistance programs, OVC trains those who work with victims and develops projects to enhance victims' rights and services. This frequently involves responding to high-profile incidents such as the Oklahoma City bombing, the Capitol Hill shootings and the embassy bombings in Africa. OVC selected the Crime Victim Service awardees from more than 175 nominations received from federal, state and local victim assistance programs, national victim assistance organizations, Members of Congress, Governors, U.S. Attorneys and individual citizens.
Honored by the Attorney General were:
KOREAN AMERICAN FAMILY SERVICE CENTER
Doris Pak, Executive Director
New York, New York
Established in 1989, the Korean American Family Service Center (KAFSC) offers support services to Korean-American immigrants in the New York Metropolitan area who have been victimized by domestic violence. KAFSC has provided thousands of domestic violence victims and their children with one-on-one counseling, 24-hour crisis intervention, court advocacy and interpretation, employment assistance and other opportunities for healing and empowerment. In addition, the Center offers community education workshops, a sexual assault prevention and counseling program, a program for children with special emotional needs, English language classes, and a single mothers' self-help group. From September 1997 to August 1998, KAFSC assisted 683 clients.
Director, Crime Victims Assistance Office
Office of the Ohio Attorney General
Sharon McClain-Boyer has been active in the victims' rights movement and violence prevention since the murder of her youngest son, Kevin, in September 1990. As a volunteer for many years and later in a professional capacity, Ms. McClain-Boyer has worked to secure numerous reforms that benefit crime victims and raise awareness of victims' needs and violence prevention. In 1992, she was appointed to the Ohio Criminal Sentencing Commission as a victim representative to reform the state's laws. Her legislative testimony and public leadership have assisted in winning a number of important measures for victims in Ohio. These include enhanced rights for victims of violent crime, passage of a victims' constitutional amendment in 1994, improved victim services at the Ohio Department of Youth Services and the Ohio Department of Rehabilitation and Corrections and creation of many victim assistance and violence prevention initiatives. In 1995, Ms. McClain-Boyer became Administrator of the Ohio Attorney General's Crime Victim Assistance Division. Under her leadership, Ohio has nearly doubled the number of victim-related grants it awards and has become among the first in the nation to implement a computerized statewide victim notification program. Ms. McClain-Boyer has presented speeches and workshops regarding victim issues at the state and national levels.
LIEUTENANT BILL WALSH
Dallas Police Department
Lieutenant Bill Walsh is a twenty-year veteran of the Dallas Police Department, assigned to the Youth and Family Crimes Division. As commander of the Investigations Unit, he oversees the Child Abuse, Child Exploitation and Family Violence Squads. Throughout his career, he has been involved in many activities that have improved law enforcement's response to victims of child abuse, sexual exploitation and domestic violence. In 1988, he started the Child Exploitation Squad, a specialized team of detectives that investigates child sexual exploitation and child abductions. In 1989, he co-founded the Dallas Children's Advocacy Center, which provides a multi-disciplinary response to child abuse. That same year, he initiated the first annual Crimes against Children Conference, which has grown to be the largest law enforcement conference in the nation on the issue. In 1992, he started the first child death review team in Texas and served on the state committee that drafted legislation on review teams. In 1997, he initiated the Sex Offender Apprehension Program (SOAP), a specialized team of detectives created to ensure that registered sex offenders comply with the state's sex offender registration law and the terms of their probation and parole. In 1998, he wrote the grant application to the Justice Department, which funded the Dallas Police Department as one of ten Internet Crimes Against Children Task Forces in the country. Throughout his career, Lieutenant Walsh has received many awards for his work, including the 1990 Dallas Police Officer of the Year, the State of Texas Special Achievement Award for Public Service and the 1998 Dallas Police Department Supervisor of the Year. He has published articles and lectured nationally and internationally on the issues of crimes against children and family violence.
c/o The National Center for Victims of Crime
Trudy Gregorie's career in victim services spans 20 years, from her work as a local victim assistance provider to a nationally-renowned trainer and spokesperson. During her 13 years as director of a prosecutor-based program in Charleston, South Carolina, Ms. Gregorie and her staff assisted more than 60,000 victims. She was appointed to South Carolina's first task force on victim assistance. She later became a founding member of the South Carolina Victim Assistance Network, where she helped to win passage of a number of rights for victims. She then became the state's first Victim Ombudsman, a program which she developed into a model for the nation.
As Training Director at the National Center for Victims of Crime, Ms. Gregorie developed a comprehensive manual for prosecutor-based victim assistance providers. Her work to improve the response of corrections agencies to victims has been regarded as revolutionary, and she was the first victim service professional to be elected to the Delegate Assembly of the American Correctional Association. Ms. Gregorie continues her service to victims through hundreds of training workshops every year.
Statesville, North Carolina
In 1978, at age 59, Harlie Wilson was shot during an armed robbery and left paralyzed from the waist down. Hospitalized for five and a half months following the shooting, he incurred medical bills in excess of $800,000. After nearly losing his home and being forced from the hospital several days early due to an unsettled bill, he and his wife Ruth began a grassroots effort that led to the establishment of the North Carolina Victim Compensation Fund, a resource that had been unavailable to him. In 1985, Mr. Wilson was named to the Governor's Crime Commission and advocated for the right of victims to legal and financial advice, as well as medical and psychological assistance. While serving on the Commission, he and his wife founded the first victim support group in the state, Victims of Crime and Leniency (VOCAL), and the following year they created the North Carolina Victim Assistance Network, a statewide nonprofit resource, advocacy and training center with over 500 members. In addition to their continued work on behalf of victims, the Wilsons are active members of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter Day Saints. Mr. Wilson began the Mormon church in Statesville, North Carolina in 1948 and served as its first presiding elder for 11 years. He was also an ordained high priest and a district high councilman for 19 years.
COOK COUNTY STATE'S ATTORNEY'S OFFICE VICTIM WITNESS ASSISTANCE PROGRAM
Richard A. Devine, State's Attorney
Established in 1981, the Victim Witness Assistance Program of the Cook County State's Attorney's Office, the second largest prosecutor's office in the country, is now one of the largest, most comprehensive prosecutor-based victim advocacy programs in the nation and serves victims and witnesses of felony crimes in Chicago and its suburban districts. Richard Devine, who was First Assistant when the program was created, accepts the award on behalf of the 73 specialists who serve thousands of victims each year. Two specialized units work solely with the juvenile delinquency calendars and the misdemeanor domestic violence and sexual assault courtrooms. The program also includes initiatives targeting underserved populations. Victim specialists provide services ranging from accompanying victims to court to working with domestic violence victims to create safety plans and locate counseling and financial assistance.
Victim specialists also co-facilitate eight homicide support groups per month and offer services to children, adolescents and adults, as well as Spanish-speaking survivors. Among the program's more recent efforts are a support group for senior victims of violent crime and a Targeted Abusers Call program in the Domestic Violence Division, which was recognized by the Justice Department's Violence Against Women Office as one of 20 promising practices in the nation.
VICTIM ADVOCATES REACHING OUT
Sara Holthaus Weidemier, Project Director
Victim Advocates Reaching Out (VARO) has provided comprehensive services to crime victims since 1982. VARO offers crisis intervention 24 hours a day to victims of assault, domestic violence, and sexual assault and survivors of homicide and suicide. Among its services are advocacy, transportation, shelter, emergency financial assistance, provision of clothing and personal care items and referrals. VARO has been particularly active in reforming Guam's response to family violence, participating in the government's Family Violence Task Force and successfully lobbying for a bill to prevent the early release of family violence and sexual assault offenders. In addition to providing direct services to local communities, the military and tourists, VARO provides intensive training for all law enforcement personnel and helps to guide the Governor's public safety policies.
Little Elm, Texas
Special Courage Award. On February 15, 1997, Amanda Lacey was returning home from a dance sponsored by her school's chapter of Students Against Drunk Driving when she was hit head-on by a drunk driver. Ms. Lacey, who is president of the chapter, was trapped in her car for almost an hour before she could be freed and was twice determined to be clinically dead. She suffered numerous serious injuries, was unable to eat for two months, and recently underwent her 18th surgical procedure since the crash. Ms. Lacey has used her experience as a platform for public safety. She participates in Victim Impact Panels sponsored by Mothers Against Drunk Driving, where she speaks before students and adults to warn them of the dangers of drinking and driving, and has given over 65 presentations. Ms. Lacey recently celebrated her 18th birthday.
OVC's activities are financed by the Crime Victims Fund. Criminal fines collected in one year by U.S. Attorneys, the U.S. Courts and Bureau of Prisons are deposited into the fund and are available for grant awards in the following year. The fund is supported solely by these fines, which are paid by federal criminal offenders - not taxpayers.
Further information about OVC, its programs and resources is available at www.ojp.usdoj.gov/ovc/ or the OJP home page at www.ojp.usdoj.gov. Or, call the OVC Resource Center at 800/627-6872.
After hours, please contact Linda Mansour on 202/616-3534 or page on 202/516-6843