Attorney General Honors Service to Crime Victims

    WASHINGTON, April 22 /PRNewswire/ -- As part of the 1998 observance of
National Crime Victims' Rights Week, Attorney General Reno today presented 17
Crime Victim Service Awards, including eight Special Awards related to the
Oklahoma City Bombing and a Special Heroism Award.  These annual awards, the
highest federal award for service to victims, were given to eight individuals
and eleven programs.  Many of the award recipients have experienced personal
tragedy and become advocates on behalf of other victims.
    "Countless individuals and groups in communities across the country are
working tirelessly to help those who suffer as a result of crime," said Reno.
"Today, we honor some of the shining examples who are an inspiration to us
    National Crime Victims' Rights Week, observed this year from April 19-25
and which coincides with the third anniversary of the Oklahoma City bombing,
provides an opportunity for thousands of local communities across the nation
to pay tribute to the millions of Americans who have been victimized by crime.
The awards ceremony is one of the activities planned by the Office for Victims
of Crime (OVC) to commemorate the week.
    "Every year, I'm impressed with the extraordinary capacity with which our
award recipients have met adversity," said Reggie Robinson, Acting Director of
OVC.  "Many of the individuals and groups who assisted in the aftermath of the
Oklahoma City bombing, for example, faced personal tragedy and yet came to the
aid of others in need.
    OVC selected the Crime victim Service awardees from over I 00 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:
    Director, Dade County Victim Assistance Unit State Attorney's Office
    1350 NW. 12th Avenue
    Miami, Florida 33136

    Denise Moon's career in victim services spans 24 years, from her hiring as
the first social worker at the Jackson Memorial Hospital Rape Treatment
Center/Crisis Intervention Clinic in Miami in 1974 to her current duties as
director of the Victim Assistance Unit of the Dade County State Attorney's
Office.  She helped organize the Children's Center, a special unit dedicated
to the forensic interviewing of child victims and witnesses.  In 1987, she
helped initiate the first prosecutor-based domestic violence unit in Florida,
and in 1992, she helped design and implement a pioneering misdemeanor domestic
violence court.  She also helped establish Tourist Lock-Up Criminals, a joint
venture among hotels, tourist agencies and the State Attorney's Office that
encourages out-of-town victims to return for court proceedings.  She authored
a funding proposal that now supports the Victim Access Network, a
comprehensive automated victim notification and information system.  She has
served on the Board of Directors of the Florida Network of Victim Witness
Services since 1986 and was elected its president in 1991.  A true stalwart of
the victims' movement, Denise Moon has been described as "the ultimate

    P.O. Box 7829
    Overland Park, Kansas 66207

    Gene and Peggy Schmidt have dedicated their impressive efforts on behalf
of crime victims to their daughter Stephanie, a college student who was raped
and murdered by a co-worker recently released after serving ten years for
rape.  The day after Stephanie's funeral in 1993, the Schmidts formed a task
force that proposed state legislation including: requiring first-time sex
offenders to register with local sheriffs upon parole; making registry
information accessible to the public; increasing sentences for sex offenders;
expanding sanctions against job applicants who lie about criminal history and
mandating that the state notify employers of the hiring of parolees.  These
measures have all been accomplished through changes in Kansas law and policy.
The task force also advocated passage of the Sexually Violent Predator Law,
known as "Stephanie's Law," which provides for the civil commitment of sexual
offenders who suffer from mental abnormalities or personality disorders and
are likely to reoffend.  Used for the first time in 1994, "Stephanie's Law"
was upheld by the Supreme Court on June 23, 1997.  The Schmidts have testified
or been invited to testify on similar legislation before eight state
legislatures, and, along with their daughter, Jeni, testified before Congress
on the 1994 Crime Bill.  Through a number of nationwide public appearances,
including "60 Minutes," and through their non-profit organization, Speak Out
for Stephanie, which sponsors educational and mentoring programs for
elementary, secondary and college students, the Schmidts have spread their
message that, by breaking the cycle of violence among potential offenders,
future sex offenses can be prevented.

    Founder, Friends of Amanda Foundation
    28 Cherry Hill Lane
    Manalapan, New Jersey 07726

    Karen Wengert derives the force of her conviction from the memory of her
six and a half year-old daughter Amanda, who was molested and murdered in 1994
by a next-door neighbor whose record of sex offenses was shielded by state and
local laws.  Vowing to prevent the same tragedy from befalling other children,
she founded the Friends of Amanda Foundation, from which she has been a
staunch advocate for legislative reform to protect victims.  Among the New
Jersey laws she has strongly influenced are the Amanda Act, a measure that
allows police and authorized officials to examine juvenile records for
incidents of violent crime, and the Peeping Tom Law, which allows voyeurs to
be psychologically examined.  Ms. Wengert encouraged the passage and enactment
of the No Early Release Act requiring the most violent criminals to serve a
minimum of 85% of their sentences.  Her contributions extend to direct
service.  When she saw the benefits of art therapy to her two surviving
children, she sought to establish a free art therapy program for battered
children.  In 1997, she and Monmouth County Senator John 0. Bennett proposed
Amanda's Easel, which is now operated by the Women's Center of Monmouth County
and serves battered women and children.  Ms. Wengert serves as a volunteer art
therapy assistant in the program.  She also completed training to become a
Child Assault Prevention Facilitator and works on behalf of children
throughout Monmouth County.  She was appointed last year by Governor Whitman
to the New Jersey Task Force on Child Abuse and Neglect.

    Peggie Reyna, Program Coordinator
    6043 Hollywood Boulevard
    Los Angeles, California 90028
    The Deaf and Disabled Services Program of the Los Angeles Commission on
Assaults Against Women is one of the only organizations in the nation that
provides services to deaf and disabled victims of crime.  Created in 1989 to
aid victims of sexual assault, domestic violence and child abuse, it seeks to
empower members of the deaf and disabled community.  To that end, it relies on
deaf and disabled individuals, rather than interpreters, to provide services,
and emphasizes intervention, prevention and education.  The program offers an
array of activities not only to aid individual victims, but also to interrupt
the cycle of violence.  Classes are tailored to meet the needs of those with
physical, visual and developmental disabilities.  An off-shoot of the program,
Deaf Kids Self Defense and Safety, teaches children how to protect themselves
from abuse.  The Deaf and Disabled Services Program also trains staff and
volunteers at domestic violence shelters to equip them to work with deaf and
disabled battered women.  The program was also instrumental in the creation of
a TDD line for the National Domestic Violence Hotline.  The program's impact
is exemplified in the story of a young deaf and mute woman who was repeatedly
raped and beaten by her father and brother.  Because she lacked any language
abilities and was unable to communicate, many shelters turned her away.
Program staff persevered, found a safe haven for the victim and taught her
sign language.  The young woman now has close contact with family and friends
and lives without the threat of violence.

    Jamie C. Tiedemann, Director
    Office of the Vice President for Student Development and Athletics
    University of Minnesota
    407 Boynton Health Service, 410 Church Street S.E.
    Minneapolis, Minnesota 55455

    The University of Minnesota Program Against Sexual Violence, established
in 1991, immediately became an innovator in sexual assault and family violence
advocacy programs through its association with a major university.  Staffed
with five full and part-time employees and up to 50 volunteers, the program
provides 24-hour on-call services and serves over 200 victims and survivors a
year.  Approximately 20,000 students, staff, faculty and alumni benefit from
its educational outreach each year.  The program offers a variety of unique
activities such as: small group training for men and women athletes and
coaches, which has reached over 600 participants; an interactive dramatic
presentation on sexual assault and an interactive presentation that addresses
same sex violence.  The program administers two 52-hour training programs a
year for sexual assault advocates and a 35-hour summer training for volunteers
and staff of rural community-based sexual assault, domestic violence and
victim-witness programs.  Its advocacy training course has been integrated
into the university's Women Studies curriculum.  The program has worked with
campus police to provide student victims transportation to court proceedings
and has arranged special accommodations for victims with the registrar and
student employment offices.  The program has pioneered initiatives such as the
Minnesota Higher Education Center Against Violence and Abuse and a partnership
with the School of Dentistry to develop a family violence training model for
dental professionals.

    Chair, Arizona MADD
    5691 W. Abraham Lane
    Glendale, Arizona 85308

    In 1981, the car Sharon Sikora was driving was hit by a drunken motorist
and became engulfed in flames, causing burns over 95 percent of her body and
paralysis of her vocal cords due to smoke inhalation.  The Phoenix Fire
Department Commander who responded to the crash described it this way: "The
horror of what happened to Sharon was almost beyond description.  I didn't
feel she had any chance of survival." Since the accident, she has endured more
than 70 reconstructive surgeries and has become a leading advocate for crime
victims' rights.  She co-founded Mothers Against Drunk Driving (MADD),
established the Arizona state chapter, and has made special effort to reach
out to victims in rural counties and Indian country.  She initiated the Ashes
to Life Burn Support Group for survivors of significant burn injuries and co-
founded the Fire Pal board of the Phoenix Fire Department, which oversees
efforts to improve fire safety programs.  She has advocated for .08 blood
alcohol content legislation and Juvenile Zero Tolerance DUI laws.  She helped
launch a statewide DUI task force involving 65 police agencies that resulted
in over 2,600 DUI arrests this past holiday season.  She was instrumental in
the passage of the Arizona Victim Bill of Rights.  As a member of the Kentucky
School Bus Crash-MADD Crisis Team, Ms. Sikora made three trips to Radcliff,
Kentucky to assist victims and survivors of a drunk driving crash that left 24
youths and three adults dead and 14 others seriously injured.  She currently
sits on the board of the Arizona Victim Compensation Program, the Foundation
for Burns and Trauma, the Phoenix Fire Department Fire Pals, Arizona Mothers
Against Drunk Driving, and National Students Against Drunk Driving.  Through
her years of dedicated service, she has cultivated a second-generation victims
advocate in her 26-year-old daughter, who is also a drunk driving victim.  Of
her many accomplishments, Ms. Sikora says she is proudest of being her
daughter's mentor.

    Executive Director
    Toledo/Lucas County Victim-Witness Assistance Program
    700 Adams Street, Suite 250
    Toledo, Ohio 43604

    Joan Coleman is responsible for one of the most comprehensive victim
assistance programs in the country.  Since becoming Executive Director of the
Toledo/Lucas County Victim-Witness Assistance Program seven years ago, she has
presided over the development of a multi-faceted organization that offers a
full range of services to victims of all persuasions.  Among the components of
the program are: a general victim services office; a Special Services Division
in the Juvenile Prosecutor's Section of Family Court; a child watch area for
female victims of violent crime in Toledo Municipal Court; a 24-hour crisis
response team and a multi-disciplinary advisory council.  The program's
Victims' Forum uses panels of victims and juvenile offenders to heighten the
awareness of junior high and high school students about the repercussions of
violent crimes and guns.  The program also operates the only Hispanic/Latino
Outreach Office in Ohio.  Staffed with 17 employees and 30 volunteers, the
program has aided over 40,000 victims and assisted them in receiving more than
$3.5 million in compensation.  In addition to her program responsibilities,
Ms. Coleman's efforts led to the development of a uniform system for victim
notification that preceded by two years the state law requiring this practice
on the felony level.  Prior to the statutory mandate of victim impact
statements, she convinced trial judges to allow victims to speak at sentencing
hearings.  As a member of the National Organization for Victim Assistance
national crisis response team, she provided crisis intervention to 28 crew
members of the Canadian Enterprise Freighter after a tragedy ended the life of
a fellow crew member.  Ms. Coleman takes personal responsibility for the
victims she serves, often helping to pay victims' rent and electric and
telephone bills, taking food to those in need and personally relocating
frightened victims and witnesses.  Often putting in over 70 hours a week, Joan
Coleman is a consummate professional who gives completely of herself to crime

    Mily Trevino Saucedo, Executive Director
    611 South Rebecca Street
    Pomona, California 91766

    The Lideras Campesinas Farmworker Women's Sexual Assault and Domestic
Violence Project reaches out to the underserved population of crime victims --
abused migrant women farm workers.  Concentrating on domestic violence victims
among migrant communities in California's southern and central valley, the
program addresses the social, economic, political and language barriers that
render this group difficult to reach.  Lideras Campesinas began in 1990 as a
result of issues uncovered during a graduate research project on domestic
violence in farm worker communities.  It implemented a Domestic Violence
Prevention Program in 1993 and began conducting statewide training to local
farm worker advocates.  In 1996, the organization expanded their educational
model to include a sexual assault component. A true grass roots organization,
the project relies on an advisory committee comprised of representatives from
15 communities to keep the project focused on the needs of women farm workers
and their families.  Under the committee's guidance, the project selects
interested women farm workers and provides them intensive training in
awareness, dynamics and prevention of sexual assault and domestic violence, as
well as the resources available to victims.  These advocates return to their
communities and educate other farm worker women through conferences and social
gatherings.  Lideras Campesinas has reached over 10,000 women farm workers.
Its impact has reached across the globe as project staff have discussed an
advocacy exchange program with the "Delta" project in Cape Town, South Africa.
An organization whose trademark is its respect for the integrity of community,
Lideras Campesinas gives a voice to women who often lack the resources to
speak on their own behalf.

    P.O. Box 127 & P.O. Box 323
    Fort Thompson, South Dakota 57339

    Special Heroism Award -- On the evening of November 2, 1996, Merle Seeking
Land and Trinity Gravatt were on their way home from a friend's house in Fort
Thompson, South Dakota, on the Crow Creek Sioux Indian Reservation, when they
heard a woman crying and shouting that she was being raped.  They found the
woman pinned to the ground, her clothes ripped away, being sexually assaulted,
and they pulled the attacker away.  The man, who had been drinking, attempted
to leave the scene, but Mr. Seeking Land and Mr. Gravatt restrained him.  The
attacker became belligerent, pushing both of them, and as he tried to flee,
Mr. Gravatt knocked him out.  They then ran to call the police and returned to
comfort the woman while they waited for authorities.  The attacker was
arrested and later charged with two counts of aggravated sexual abuse.
Despite the influence of the defendant's family in the community and pressure
to withdraw their cooperation with the investigation, both Mr. Seeking Land
and Mr. Gravatt testified at the grand jury hearing, which was held
approximately 175 miles from their home, and then at the trial, which was held
in Aberdeen, about 150 miles from Fort Thompson.  Their testimony helped to
convict the defendant on both counts and to secure a sentence of 121 months in
prison and 4 years of supervised release.


    The largest-scale act of terrorism ever committed on North American soil,
the April 19, 1995 bombing of the Alfred P. Murrah Federal Building in
Oklahoma City, left 168 men, women and children dead and hundreds of others
injured.  The heroic rescue efforts and crisis response to the victims and
survivors in its immediate aftermath earned the nation's collective admiration
and praise.  The scope of the tragedy brought to the trials that followed a
set of dynamics unprecedented in the history of the U.S. criminal justice
system. The complexities of the cases against Timothy McVeigh and Terry
Nichols, the great public scrutiny of the Denver trials and the sheer number
of victims and survivors made the work of those involved seem a daunting
undertaking.  The dedication, compassion and perseverance demonstrated by the
members of these eight groups may be characterized as nothing short of

    Gwen Allen, Director
    Oklahoma Department of Mental Health and Substance Abuse Services
    1200 N.E. 13th Street
    Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73152
    Project Heartland began as the immediate mental health response to the
bombing and continued as a crisis intervention mechanism throughout the trials
and has now reached over 4,000 individuals.  Opening with a staff of 5
individuals and eventually employing 73, it has provided counseling, support
groups, outreach, consultation and education.  When the trials began, project
staff continued to offer their services through the debriefing of prosecution
witnesses, support to victim family members and survivors attending the trial
or closed-circuit broadcasts and preparing those individuals for some of the
more difficult testimony.

    Colonel Jack Poe, Chief of Chaplains
    Oklahoma City Police Department
    701 Concord Drive
    Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73102

    The Critical Incident Workshops Group is comprised of police and fire
chaplains who arrived at the Alfred P. Murrah Building immediately after the
bombing.  These chaplains mobilized more than 700 clergy from around the
country to help the survivors, families and rescuers on site and at a Family
Response Center.  In the days and months following the bombing, the group
began conducting critical incident workshops to help rescuers cope with their
experiences.  These workshops became integral to the healing of those affected
by the tragedy.

    Steve Siegel, Director of Program Development
    District Attorney's Office
    303 W. Colfax Avenue, No. 1300
    Denver, Colorado 80204

    Created to aid survivors and families of victims while in Denver, the
Colorado/Oklahoma Resource Council (CORC) exemplified the positive force of
collaboration.  The CORC secured lodging near the federal courthouse, arranged
local transportation and ensured availability of medical and mental health
services.  It provided a safe haven near the courthouse, offering victims a
secure, protected and supportive environment.  In addition, the CORC's "Line
Holders" relieved victims from standing in line to secure limited courtroom

    The Reverend Tracy Evans
    1001 N.W. 25th, #206
    Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73106

    For the victims and survivors unable to travel to Denver for the trials,
the Oklahoma City Safe Haven Committee ensured the accessibility of trial
proceedings. Safe Haven provided closed-circuit broadcast of the trials in a
supportive atmosphere where shuttle services, counseling, refreshments and an
information center for trial transcripts and witness summaries were available.
The centers opened with jury selection in the McVeigh trial on March 31, 1997
and remained in service for the duration of both trials.  More than 300
volunteers helped serve nearly 1,000 victims and survivors.

    Lynn Anderson, Assistant United States Attorney
    Office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma
    Western District of Oklahoma
    210 W. Park Avenue, Suite 400
    Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73102

    The Victim-Witness Assistance Unit of the United States Attorney's Office
for the Western District of Oklahoma devoted its efforts to ensuring that
victims, relatives and survivors would have access to the trials, whether in
person or through the closed-circuit broadcasts.  Among its activities were
the securing of a large facility in Oklahoma City for viewing the closed-
circuit broadcasts; organization of victim attendance at the trials, including
arrangements for travel; training of volunteers to staff the Oklahoma City
safe haven; assistance in ensuring the safety of those attending the trial;
obtaining of medical care; coordination of shuttle and food services and
providing emotional support.

    Mary Anne Castellano, Victim/Witness Specialist
    Office of the United States Attorney for the District of Colorado
    1961 Stout Street, 13th Floor
    Denver, Colorado 80294

    The Oklahoma Bombing Victim/Witness Center offered much-needed sensitivity
and compassion to the 135 survivors, family members of victims and rescue
workers who appeared as witnesses at both trials.  Comprised of victim-witness
specialists from six United States Attorneys' Offices, the Center familiarized
itself with the background of each victim and witness in an effort to
understand their unique needs, helped those called to testify to make sense of
the judicial process, acted as a conduit to victim services and advocated for
victims and survivors when they encountered problems with employers.

    Amy Bourgeron, Director
    1437 Bannock, Room 379
    Denver, Colorado 80202

    The Denver Media Logistics/Consortium demonstrated victim-sensitive news
coverage, as it remained aware and respectful of the emotional needs of
victims and survivors throughout the trials.  Begun as a partnership between
victim advocates and the press, the Consortium quickly became a self-
generating committee of 72 news organizations that sought to ensure
compassionate treatment of victims and survivors in the media, while at the
same time maintaining the integrity and accuracy of information.  Due to the
exceptional scrutiny given to the trials and the great potential for media
exploitation, the efforts of Consortium members merit sincere gratitude.

    Patrick Ryan, United States Attorney
    Office of the United States Attorney for the Western District of Oklahoma
    210 W. Park Avenue, Suite 400
    Oklahoma City, Oklahoma 73102

    The Oklahoma City Bombing Prosecution Team set a new standard for the
sensitive and inclusive treatment of victims in court.  By requiring that
members meet with each of 168 families of the deceased and with the injured
survivors, the team demonstrated its commitment to ensuring that the impetus
for serving justice in the trials would be the needs of the victims
themselves.  Through the creation of a victim database for the approximately
3,000 family members and survivors, the installation of a toll-free number
through which victims could obtain needed assistance and by the convening of
regular group meetings with victims, it was able to communicate rapidly and
efficiently to those needing information.  Working seven days a week, 12
or more hours per day for over two years, the team viewed its mission as a
responsibility to victims above all else.

    OVC is the federal government's chief advocate for crime victims and their
families, OVC administers two grant programs for states to expand victim
compensation and assistance programs, as well as other grants to support
innovative programs benefiting crime victims.  It also sponsors training to
help criminal justice officials and others better meet the needs of crime
victims and their families.
    OVC's activities are financed by the Crime Victims Fund in the U.S.
Treasury.  The Fund receives deposits each fiscal year -- not from taxpayers
-- but from fines and penalty assessments from convicted federal criminals.
    To learn more about OVC, its programs and resources, see the Web site at or the OJP home page at Or, call the OVC Resource Center at 800-627-6872.

SOURCE  Office for Victims of Crime

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