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Madam Speaker, this week is National Crime Victims' Rights Week, and in the criminal justice system, Madam Speaker, we've come a long way to the time that we recognize the importance of victims and honor them for a whole week.
Before I came to Congress, I was working in the District Attorney's office in Houston, Texas. That was even before I was a judge for 22 years. And I often reflect on one crime victim that taught me more about the way the world really is than maybe any other person.
Many years ago I had the opportunity to prosecute a case, and I'm going to change the names because the victim's family still lives in the Houston area and are concerned about their privacy.
This young lady was married and had two twin boys. And she had a good career. She was in her early 20s, and she was going to the University of Houston at night to get a second degree.
And one evening she was driving home, and she had car trouble. The lights came on in the dash of her vehicle. So she pulled over to a service station that she thought was open. But the service station was not open, it was closed.
She got out of the car, and she started talking to who she thought was a service station attendant. But the individual, Luke Johnson, was not a service station attendant. He was just hanging around. He pulled out a pistol. He kidnapped this young lady, Lisa,and took her to a remote area in the piney woods of East Texas. He pistol whipped her. He sexually assaulted her, and he left her for dead. In fact, when he was later arrested, he was mad that he hadn't killed her.
But she was a remarkable young lady. She survived that brutal attack. Three or four days later, she was found in the woods by a hunter that was out there. Medical needs were met for her. She recovered that brutal attack. Luke Johnson was later captured and charged with aggravated sexual assault.
I was fortunate to prosecute that case. Lisa came and testified before a jury of 12 citizens of Houston, Texas. Luke Johnson was convicted. He received the maximum sentence of 99 years in the Texas State Penitentiary.
And, Madam Speaker, we would hope that all would be well with victims after that, that the world would go on and things would work out well. But that's not the world that we have ever lived in.
Lisa couldn't quite cope with being the victim of a crime. She never went back to that campus at the University of Houston. You can understand why. She couldn't hold a job. In fact, she was fired from her job because she couldn't focus. She started abusing drugs, first alcohol and then probably everything else that she could get her hands on.
Her husband, the kind of guy that he was, no longer wanted her, sued her for divorce, and was able to convince a judge in Houston that he should obtain both of the twin boys, and he left the State of Texas for good, claiming that she was not mentally capable to raise those two children.
And soon after that occurrence, I received a phone call from Lisa's mother telling me that she had received a note from her daughter saying that she was going to take her life. And she did. And I have that note with me today. I've always had that ever since this crime occurred, all the years I was a judge, and I have it in my office here in Congress, saying that she was tired of running from Luke Johnson in her nightmares.
She paid the ultimate price for being a crime victim, Madam Speaker. And because of the fact in those days there was no victim advocate, there was no one that she could turn to, she felt alone. She was alone, Madam Speaker.
But the criminal justice system in this country has come a long way. We have victims' advocates, who take care of the needs of victims, all the way from the time the crime is committed, through the trial, and after the trial. And we have people in the medical profession that donate their time to help in the recovery of crime victims. And now we have in the United States Congress a Victims' Rights Caucus. I'm proud to be the founder of that, but it's a bipartisan caucus. Jim Costa from California, a Democrat, is the co-chairman of this caucus. We have over 44 members, Members of both parties, who seek and advocate rights of crime victims here in the United States House of Representatives.
Madam Speaker, we have come a long way. But we have a long way to go because crime victims are real people. Crime doesn't discriminate based on race, age, sex, or economic status. Crime affects so many people through this country. And we, as good neighbors, need to make sure that we keep up with people who have had that unfortunate experience of being a crime victim, especially of a violent crime. Because the same Constitution that protects the rights of criminal defendants protects the rights of crime victims. And we should always seek justice because justice is what we do in this country. And that means that we must always have justice for victims as well.
And that's just the way it is.
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