Ceremony held in honor of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week
PHOENIX (LAWFUEL) – In a ceremony here today, U.S. Attorney Diane J. Humetewa joined crime victims, victim advocates, and members of the public and law enforcement community to mark the 29th Anniversary of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week and the 25th anniversary of the federal Crime Victims’ Rights Act. U.S. Attorney Humetewa honored criminal justice personnel who have gone above and beyond in helping victims of crime. She called on all Americans to take time this week to learn about victimization, reflect on the cost of crime to our society, and promote laws, policies and programs to help victims of crime rebuild their lives.
This year’s ceremony was opened with the posting of the colors by the Honor Guard from the Tucson Field Office, U.S. Customs and Border Protection. The keynote speaker was Meg Garvin, Executive Director of the National Crime Victim Law Institute and co-chair of the American Bar Association’s Criminal Justice Section Victims Committee.
During the past three decades, the United States has made dramatic progress in securing rights, protections, and services for victims of crime. Every state, including Arizona, has enacted victims’ rights laws; law enforcement agencies give victims greater protection; and more than 10,000 victim assistance programs have been established throughout the country. Every state has a crime victim compensation fund, and powerful federal laws, such as the Violence Against Women Act and the Crime Victims’ Rights Act, to help protect victims and fund needed services.
“This year’s national theme, ‘25 Years of Rebuilding Lives: Celebrating the Victims of Crime Act,’ celebrates the passage of this landmark legislation and the duty our criminal justice system owes to crime victims,” U.S. Attorney Humetewa stated. “It also reminds us of our own duty toward victims and our need to create a legal culture in which victims are respected and heard.”
Remembered during today’s ceremony were Tomomi Hanamure, a Japanese tourist who was murdered on her 34th birthday in 2006 at the Grand Canyon; James Barker, a taxi driver who was murdered in Phoenix as a part of a 2004 robbery attempt; and Geneva Tate, a mother and grandmother from Whiteriver, Ariz., who was killed by a drunk driver in October 2007. Geneva was so beloved by the community that offices on the reservation were shut down during her funeral so that hundreds could attend. Tomomi’s father, who traveled to Arizona to speak at her killer’s sentencing hearing in 2008, traveled to Phoenix again today from Tokyo, Japan. Each of these three victims is memorialized with a plaque that hangs in the lobby of the U.S. Attorney’s Office.
In addition, since 1997 the U.S. Attorney’s Office has recognized individuals and agencies from throughout Arizona who show dedication and commitment to serving federal crime victims in many capacities. The individuals recognized during today’s ceremony were nominated by their peers for going above and beyond the call of their individual professions in serving crime victims crime victims. The following personnel from the Criminal Justice community were honored for going beyond the call of duty:
Eydie Robertson, Victim Witness Specialist, U.S. Attorney’s Office, Phoenix Office, is very committed to helping crime victims understand the criminal justice process and receive the best services available. She works tirelessly to establish a relationship with the victims she serves, many of them speak only Spanish, and often reaches out to many of them at the investigative stage prior to the filing of formal charges. Her efforts truly help put these victims at ease. Over the past year, on three separate occasions, Eydie was called upon to provide training on Human Trafficking and Victim Services for law enforcement in Mexico City, Mexico. Her demanding caseload includes, immigration, white collar and violent crime cases.
Dorris Hinton, Victim Advocate for the White Mountain Apache Tribe has faithfully driven numerous victims to hearings during federal cases including detention hearings, change of plea hearings, trials, sentencing hearings and meetings with the prosecutors to discuss their cases. Dorris is able to communicate with victims in the Apache language, enabling them to have a better understanding of the federal criminal justice system. She is a valuable resource who has taken extraordinary efforts to help victims and attend court appearances over the past ten years.
Margo Barber, Special Agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation, has been investigating violent Indian Country criminal cases in the past three of her 24 years with the FBI. Stationed at the FBI Lake Havasu Resident Agency, Margo’s relentless pursuit of justice and sheer determination to thoroughly investigate her cases speaks volumes about her dedication to her profession. Her cases include mostly domestic violence, sexual abuse, violent crimes and vehicular manslaughter and have resulted in solid convictions.
Heather Bergey, Special Agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Phoenix Division, whose assignments include investigating interstate prostitution, counter terrorism, violent crimes and street/organized gang squads. In one case, SA Bergey interrupted a fraud scheme and exposed imposters which protected an elderly gentleman from serious financial loss. In another case, she worked tirelessly to expose a juvenile prostitution ring and helped the victims who were being sexually exploited. She flew out of state to track down the victims, provided assistance, and encouraged their participation in the justice process to secure a conviction against a volatile defendant. Her hard work on this case ultimately protected the victims from further harm and her intervention in this case had a life changing impact on these victims.
Tracie Keegan, Special Agent, Federal Bureau of Investigation, Phoenix Division, whose 10 years with the FBI and 14 years of previous law enforcement experience includes violent crimes, cyber-crimes and civil rights violations. Assigned to the FBI Lake Havasu Resident Agency, she has investigated cases involving minor children and sought to have these children undergo forensically sound exams. She also responds to crimes involving domestic violence and has worked very hard to gain the trust of victims in these types of cases.
Jennifer Weber, Special Agent, Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Immigration and Customs Enforcement, is an active participant in the Greater Phoenix Human Trafficking Task Force, the Human Trafficking Executive Council and Project Innocence Lost Task Force. These task forces identify victims, assist those victims and prosecute the offenders who have violated federal law. She also collaborates with Non-Government Organizations to train professionals in the community regarding the differences between human trafficking and human smuggling. She has built a strong base of resources from within the federal family to state and local agencies. In every case, Agent Weber treats victims with fairness, dignity and respect, especially those victims who have been held hostage, which in many cases has given them the courage to step forward and testify leading to successful prosecutions
RELEASE NUMBER: 2009-144(Victims’ Rights)