SIOUX FALLS, SD – United States Attorney Ron Parsons joined the Department of Justice and communities nationwide in observing National Crime Victims’ Rights Week and announced that nine individuals in the District of South Dakota are being honored by the U.S. Attorney’s Office in recognition of their outstanding dedication, service, and contributions on behalf of crime victims. This year’s observance takes place April 19-25 and features the theme: “Seek Justice. Ensure Victims' Rights. Inspire Hope.”
The Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime will join communities nationwide in observing National Crime Victims’ Rights Week and celebrating victims’ rights, protections, and services. Unfortunately, due to COVID-19, official award ceremonies are postponed indefinitely.
“Every year, millions of Americans suffer the shock and trauma of criminal victimization, affecting their well-being and sense of security and dignity,” said Attorney General William P. Barr. “To these victims, we affirm our unwavering commitment to supporting them in their hour of need.”
“The Department of Justice is committed to supporting the survivors of crime and their families,” said U.S. Attorney Parsons. “We also commend the many victim advocates and public safety professionals who tirelessly work to support the survivors of crime, secure their dignity, and protect their rights with dedication and compassion. This year’s honorees are shining examples of that extraordinary commitment.”
Those being honored by the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Dakota as part of National Crime Victim’s Week are:
- Emily’s Hope, a non-profit organization founded by Angela Kennecke as a means of channeling the heartbreak of her daughter’s death due to fentanyl poisoning into action to help prevent others from suffering a similar tragedy, is recognized for its outstanding efforts to raise awareness of the opioid epidemic, ease the stigma of addiction, and assist the victims of drug trafficking by helping to offset the cost of treatment. In its first year alone, Emily’s Hope was able to raise $250,000 to fund scholarships for patients seeking treatment at the Avera Addiction Care Center in Sioux Falls.
- Amanda Liebl, a forensic interviewer with Child’s Voice in Sioux Falls, is commended for her outstanding professional conduct in forensically interviewing a 13 year-old girl that was physically and sexually abused by a family member.
- Dr. Brooke Jones, a pediatrician with Child’s Voice in Sioux Falls, is recognized for her medical treatment and care for a 13 year-old girl that was physically and sexually abused by a family member and providing expert testimony at a jury trial resulting in a conviction and justice for the victim.
- Dr. Deb McParland, a psychiatrist at Our Home in Parkston, is recognized for her outstanding efforts in providing a safe and nurturing environment to a 13 year-old girl that was physically and sexually abused by a family member. Known as "Dr. Deb" by the residents, she assisted in providing the nurturing and stable environment necessary for the victim to regain her health. Dr. McParland went the extra mile by accompanying the victim to court to support her during her trial testimony against her abuser.
- Alex Chasing-Sainz, a Yankton Sioux Tribe Law Enforcement Officer, is commended for his remarkable investigation that led to the swift apprehension of the attacker of two elderly women in the Yankton Sioux Tribe community.
- Patricia Irons, a resident of Marty, is recognized for her brave and outstanding cooperation with law enforcement to assist in the investigation of a violent crime against a neighbor.
- Curt L. Muller, Special Agent in Charge, Kansas City Region, Office of Inspector General - Office of Investigations, U.S. Department of Health & Human Services – Special Agent in Charge Muller’s tireless efforts in investigating Dr. Stanley Patrick Weber, starting in 2015, resulted in Weber’s conviction for eight child sex related convictions, and ultimate life sentences for his prolific abuse of children on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and the Blackfeet Indian Reservation in Montana spanning over 30 years. Special Agent in Charge Muller conducted over 200 interviews, assisted in the preparations for a complicated trial, and arranged for his agency to provide unprecedented support for the case and victims of Weber’s crimes.
- Fred Bennett, former Special Agent for the Bureau of Indian Affairs traveled extensively to obtain evidence vital to Stanley Weber’s convictions. It was his work with several victims that obtained their cooperation, despite the difficulty in that process. Special Agent Bennett was the first law enforcement official to persuade one of Weber’s victims to go on the record about the crimes committed against him, which led to the cases being prosecuted.
- Justin Christman, Special Agent, Office of Inspector General – Office of Inspection, U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. Special Agent Christman assisted in the investigation and trial preparation for the Stanley Weber case.
The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the District of South Dakota and the Department of Justice commend these outstanding advocates for the victims of crime and thank them for their extraordinary service to our communities.
President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the first Victims’ Rights Week in 1981, putting crime victims' rights, needs, and concerns in a prominent spot on the American agenda. He also established the President’s Task Force on Victims of Crime, which laid the groundwork for a national network of services and legal safeguards for crime victims. President Trump and his administration have implemented historic levels of support for victim assistance and victim compensation.
Some 3.3 million Americans age 12 and older were victims of violent crime in 2018, according to the National Crime Victimization Survey. The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC), part of the Justice Department’s Office of Justice Programs, supports more than 7,000 local victim assistance programs and victim compensation programs in every state and U.S. territory. Funds for these programs come from the Crime Victims Fund, which is made up of federal criminal fines, penalties and bond forfeitures.
For additional information about the 2020 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, visit: http://www.ovc.gov/