CHARLESTON, W.Va. – National Crime Victims’ Rights Week will be commemorated April 24-30, 2022, and the United States Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia is sponsoring its 20th Annual Operation Reach Out Opening Ceremony to promote its observance.
The ceremony will be held at the West Virginia State Capitol on Tuesday, April 26, at 10 a.m. This year’s theme is “Rights, access, equity for all victims,” and underscores the importance of helping crime survivors find their justice by enforcing the rights of victims, expanding access to services, and ensuring equity and inclusion for all.
Stephanie Wilson will share her message of hope and strength for fellow survivors as part of Tuesday’s ceremony. Wilson was only 11 years old when a man posing as a store security guard lured her away from her mother at the South Charleston Target and sexually assaulted her at knifepoint. As a result of his July 2003 crime, the defendant was convicted and sentenced to prison on both federal and state charges. Wilson now advocates for crime victims and encourages them to remember that they are not alone.
“Stephanie is a true profile in courage,” said U.S. Attorney Will Thompson, who will emcee the event. “She has triumphed over a horrific ordeal and her continuing dedication to survivors and their loved ones is an inspiration.”
Thompson will present several awards during the ceremony and is also among the scheduled speakers, who include: West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals Chief Justice John A. Hutchinson; West Virginia House of Delegates Speaker Roger Hanshaw; West Virginia Legislative Claims Commission Clerk Janet Kawash; and West Virginia Department of Homeland Security Secretary Jeff Sandy.
The ceremony is slated for the State Capitol’s South steps, near Kanawha Boulevard. In the event of inclement weather, the ceremony will be held at the Senate side of the Capitol’s Upper Rotunda.
Each year, the Department of Justice and the United States Attorneys’ offices observe National Crime Victims’ Rights Week nationwide in April, to honor victims of crime and those who advocate on their behalf. Operation Reach Out is a collaborative effort involving local advocacy programs that raise awareness of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week and of the various organizations that provide services to crime victims.
The Department of Justice’s Office for Victims of Crime, within the Office of Justice Programs, leads communities across the country in observing National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. In 1981, President Ronald Reagan proclaimed the first National Crime Victims’ Rights Week to bring greater sensitivity to the needs and rights of victims of crime.
The Office of Justice Programs provides innovative leadership to federal, state, local, and tribal justice systems, by disseminating state-of-the art knowledge and practices across America, and providing grants for the implementation of these crime-fighting strategies. Because most of the responsibility for crime control and prevention falls to law enforcement officers in states, cities, and neighborhoods, the federal government can be effective in these areas only to the extent that it can enter into partnerships with these officers.
More information about the Office of Justice Programs and its components can be found at www.ojp.gov. More information about Crime Victim’s Rights Week can be found at https://ovc.ncjrs.gov/ncvrw. You may also contact the U.S. Attorney’s Office, SDWV, Victim Witness Program at (304) 345-2200.
A copy of this press release is located on the website of the U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Southern District of West Virginia.