POMEROY — Strength, resilience and justice.
That is the theme for the 2017 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, as well as the message from those at Sunday evening’s event held in Pomeroy in recognition of the week.
Each year the Meigs County Prosecutor’s Office and Crime Victims’ Services Office hosts a Crime Victims’ Rights event, remembering homicide victims, as well as raising awareness to the rights of crime victims.
Those in attendance, or others who may be in Pomeroy this week, were invited to walk a mile in the shoes of crime victims, with 507 shoes displayed along the parking lot wall to represent each of the crime victims in Meigs County in 2016.
Prosecutor James K. Stanley welcomed those in attendance and spoke of the resilience and strength of the victims of crimes in pursuing justice.
Stanley stated that there is the strength to survive the crime, to report it, speak with the officers, advocates and prosecutor, show up for court hearings, testify in front of the person who committed the crime, withstand the cross examination, stand up in court and say what happened is not okay, read the victim impact statement and eventually start life anew.
“With strength comes resiliency,” said Stanley. He added that some of his proudest moments as a prosecutor are when they get the positive outcome for a victims, while the hardest have been when the jury returns a not guilty verdict.
Stanley recognized School Resource Officer Deputy Michael Hupp for his service on behalf of victims of crime, noting two recent cases involving child victims. In the cases, adult males were alleged to have attempted to meet underage girls with the intent of engaging in sex.
Victims’ Service Director Theda Petrasko read the impact statement authored by a woman who was the victim of an attack by a father and son in August 2016. Both men have pleaded guilty in the case and are serving prison sentences.
At the end of the ceremony, Stanley presented Petrasko with a plaque, recognizing her for her work with crime victims in Meigs County over the past several years.
“A hundred years from now, it will not matter the house you lived in, what kind of car you drove or what was in your bank account. But the world might be a better place because you were important in the life of a victim,” read the plaque.
Each year during the ceremony, homicide victims killed in Meigs County, or those from Meigs County, are remembered. This year for the first time, balloons were released in memory of each victim.
Homicide victims remembered during the ceremony included Deborah Ellis, William Underwood, Todd Johnson, Winfield Hardiman, Tommy Parker, Howard Lawrence, Bobbie Butcher, Christopher Roush, Rebecca Ackerman, Keitha Whitlatch, James W. Gardner, Stephanie Ramey, Stephanie English, Jeffrey Halley, Jeffrey Shannon Halley, Diana Brewer, Ericka Brown, Walter Chaffin, Kenneth Rizer Sr., Doris Jackson, Robert Harrison, Joshua Starcher, Brett Pierce, Dyle Bay, Dale Miller, Brandon Lupardus and Sidney Wise.
As the names were called family members or others in the crowd released biodegradable dove balloons, some with messages attached, in memory of each homicide victim.
In addition, luminary bags were available for those in attendance to write thoughts, prayers or messages to the crime victims or their families.
The Meigs County Crime Victims’ Services provides a variety of services to victims of crime, including accompanying the victim and/or family members to court, information and referrals, direct services, crisis support, criminal justice support and court notifications.
“Our mission is to provide information and assistance to victims of crime, to provide direct and support services to victims of crime, to facilitate public and private cooperation to aid crime victims. As an advocate we are to maintain confidentiality and serve all people with respect and dignity,” reads the mission statement of the Meigs County Crime Victims’ Service office.
In 2016, Meigs County Crime Victim Services handled 254 crisis responses; sent 2,442 letters to victims of crime; made 1,872 phone contacts; made 222 referrals to other social services; made 188 follow-ups on parole board hearings or probation violations; attended 556 county court hearings and 976 common pleas court hearings.
Music and sound for the event were provided by Jimmy Childs, DJ Enforcer. Students from the Eastern High School National Honor Society assisted with setting up the display.
Reach Sarah Hawley at 740-992-2155 ext. 2555 or on Twitter @SarahHawleyNews