Four Individuals Recognized as part of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, April 10-16
2016 Theme: Serving Victims. Building Trust. Restoring Hope.
United States Attorney Randolph J. Seiler announced that four individuals will be awarded Department of Justice Certificates of Appreciation as part of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week 2016. The U.S. Attorney’s Office will present the honorees with their awards and provide brief remarks in recognition of their outstanding dedication, service, and contributions on behalf of crime victims.
National Crime Victims’ Rights Week honors and celebrates the achievements of the past thirty years in securing rights, protections, and services for victims. The bipartisan Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), passed by Congress in 1984, created a national fund to ease victims’ suffering. Financed by fines and penalties paid by offenders, the Crime Victims Fund supports services for victims of all types of crime, including assistance for homicide survivors, survivors of child sexual abuse, and victims of human trafficking, as well as rape crisis centers and domestic violence programs among others. VOCA also funds victim compensation programs that pay victims’ out-of-pocket expenses - such as counseling, funeral expenses, and lost wages.
The first ceremony will be held in Pine Ridge on Friday, April 15, 2016, at the Justice Center for the People, located at 977 Horse Thief Road. It will be held prior to the Multidisciplinary Task Force Meeting at 10:00 a.m. MST. The individual honored at this event will be Cheryl Renee Bourque. Ms. Bourque is an enrolled citizen of the Muscogee (Creek) Nation of Oklahoma. She is currently a Victim Specialist with the Bureau of Indian Affairs, Office of Justice Services, assigned to the Pine Ridge Agency in South Dakota.
Ms. Bourque has over 13 years of experience dealing with victims of crime in Indian country, working on several different reservations, including Oklahoma’s complex jurisdiction. For the last 25 months, she has been assigned to the Pine Ridge Agency where she has helped literally hundreds of crime victims. The victims have benefitted from her extensive knowledge and experience in dealing with violent crimes, as she guided them through some of the most traumatic times in their lives. Ms. Bourque’s experience as an advocate and law enforcement officer provides a unique perspective on systems’ response in addressing victim’s needs. She has held several different positions on boards and task forces and has been a leading voice in helping to raise awareness about the unique issues facing victims in Indian country.
Ms. Bourque has held positions as the Executive Director for the Oklahoma Tribal Coalition, as a state and tribal domestic violence/sexual assault advocate, and as a law enforcement officer. She is a contract/adjunct instructor with the Federal Law Enforcement Training Center, based in Glynco, Georgia, and she has traveled across the nation to instruct on issues pertaining to domestic violence, and sexual assault and stalking, with an emphasis on serving victims of crime in Indian country.
The second ceremony will be in Eagle Butte on Thursday, April 28, 2016. It will also be held prior to the Multidisciplinary Task Force Meeting at 10:00 a.m. MST. The two award recipients will be Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Detective Russell Leaf and Federal Bureau of Investigation Special Agent James Asher.
Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe Criminal Investigator Russell Leaf has served the public as a law enforcement officer since 1985, making him one of the longest serving law enforcement officers in South Dakota. He began his law enforcement career as a military police officer stationed in Fort Carson, Colorado and in Germany. Since leaving military service, Criminal Investigator Leaf has served people in Indian country since 1987. He has worked for Tribal and Bureau of Indian Affairs Police Departments in Standing Rock, Yankton, Winnebago and Omaha (Nebraska), Crow Agency (Montana), Fort Duchesne (Utah), and Red Lake (Minnesota). Criminal Investigator Leaf began his career in Tribal law enforcement working for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe. He returned there in 2002, where he has spent the last 14 years of his career, and has been a Criminal Investigator for the Cheyenne River Sioux Tribe since 2008.
Special Agent (SA) James Asher graduated from Cedarville University in Ohio in 2002. After graduating from college, SA Asher joined the military and was an Army Infantry Officer in the 82nd Airborne Division from 2002 until 2008. In 2008, SA Asher joined the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He initially worked in Kansas City and Los Angeles, where he specialized in investigations involving gangs and narcotics. In April of 2015, SA Asher transferred to the Pierre Resident Agency, where he investigates sexual assault cases and other violent crimes in Indian country.
The fourth recipient, Cynthia Johanson, a Probation Officer with the Flandreau Santee Sioux Tribal Court, will be honored at a ceremony in Flandreau on May 5, 2016.
For additional information about this year’s National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, visit: http://www.ovc.gov/