WASHINGTON, DC – On Wednesday, Co-Chairs and Co-Founders Congressman Ted Poe (R-TX) and Congressman Jim Costa (D-CA) joined Patrick Meehan (R-PA) of the bipartisan Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus to honor this year’s outstanding individuals who have given their time and service to helping victims. This year marks the 11th anniversary of the Caucus.

The Congressional Victims' Rights Caucus (VRC) is a proven and effective leader in advocating for crime victims.  During its 11-year existence, the VRC has taken the lead in protecting programs that provide critical support for victim services throughout the nation, including the Victims of Crime Act (VOCA), Violence Against Women Act (VAWA), and the Trafficking Victims Protection Reauthorization Act (TVPRA). The Caucus was also instrumental in the enactment of the Adam Walsh Child Protection and Safety Act of 2006, the Cruise Vessel Safety and Security Act of 2009, the Kate Puzey Peace Corps Volunteer Protection Act of 2011, the SAFER Act of 2013, the Victims of Child Abuse Act Reauthorization Act of 2013, and the Justice for Victims of Trafficking Act of 2015.  Each year, it hosts various briefings on victims’ rights issues, including domestic violence, child abuse, elder abuse, human trafficking as well as various other topics.  It also recognizes National Crime Victims’ Rights Week with its annual awards ceremony.

“Our 2017 VRC honorees are some of the most committed people in their field,” said Rep. Poe. “Their work and advocacy have inspired meaningful changes that should never be forgotten. We thank all of the awardees for their tireless efforts to ensure that victims of crimes are not just statistics. They are remembered because they are real people with real stories who have had something bad happen to them. I cannot think of a more deserving group of people to recognize. This is the 11th year that the Congressional Victims’ Rights Caucus has recognized advocates, service providers, and survivors – our heroes – for all of their hard work, strength, and resolve.”

The awards were live streamed on Congressman Ted Poe’s Facebook Page.

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The 2017 Victim’s Rights Caucus Recipients:

Lois Haight Award of Excellence and Innovation

The Lois Haight award pays tribute to California Judge Lois Haight who, as an appointee of President Ronald Reagan and Chair of his 1982 President’s Task Force on Victims of Crime, led pioneering efforts on behalf of crime victims that resulted in significant public policy advances to promote crime victims’ rights and services. The honoree is a professional whose efforts have had a significant impact on local, state, national or international public policy development and implementation that promote dignity, respect, rights and services for victims of crime.

 

Tina Frundt, Courtney’s House

Nominated by Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX)

Tina Frundt was 14 years old when she was forced into prostitution. Like so many trafficking victims, she was lured away from the safety of her home by a man she thought she knew and trusted. Tina was eventually discovered by police and taken away from her traffickers, only to find herself in a juvenile detention center with no care or help. Her harrowing experience changed her forever, and she made it her personal mission to help rescue and save victims in a way that she never was.

Since becoming a survivor, she has worked tirelessly to rescue, rehabilitate and fight for victims in every way she can. By operating two trafficking shelters in D.C., Tina actively uses her personal experience to connect with trafficking victims, and provide them the support, nourishment and help that they need. She has helped over 500 victims escape from sex slavery. She serves on the DC Anti-Trafficking Task Force, testifies and speaks often in support of victims’ rights and serves on the United States Advisory Council on Human Trafficking.

 

Connie Clery, Clery Center for Security on Campus

Nominated by Patrick Meehan (R-PA)

Connie and the Clery Center literally changed the face of campus safety at colleges and universities across the United States after the 1986 brutal rape and murder of their only daughter Jeanne at Lehigh University by a fellow student whom she did not know.

The creation of the Clery Center in 1987 was a “game changer” in the field of crime victim assistance.  Through the development of sound Federal and state public policy, the Clery Center has shed light on the need for accountability of universities and colleges to keep their students safe; and has combined crime prevention, public awareness, and victim assistance in policies and programs that improve campus safety.

 

Allied Professional Award

The Allied Professional award recognizes the efforts of individuals, organizations, and/or coalitions that directly benefit victims of crime, but whom are not direct victim service providers. The honoree exhibits leadership, creativity and commitment in linking allied professions to improve the plight of crime victims in our Nation.

 

New Friends New Life

Nominated by Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX)

New Friends New Life started in 1998 as a small church program to help women escape the sex industry. Over the years, it has expanded and grown, and now offers education, job training, financial assistance and mental and spiritual support to over 1,200 trafficked women and children each year. New Friends New Life focuses on empowering trafficking victims, providing them the resources and support they need to rebuild their lives.

 

Eva Murillo Unsung Hero Award

The Unsung Hero Award is in memorial of Eva Murillo, a prominent crime victim advocate from California. The honoree is a crime victim or survivor who has utilized their experiences to promote public education and awareness, public policy development and greater awareness about crime victims’ rights and needs.

 

Sue Weidemann

Nominated by Patrick Meehan (R-PA)

During a massage, Sue Weidemann was sexually assaulted in West Goshen, Pennsylvania. Ms. Weidemann later learned that other clients had levied complaints of assault against the massage therapist who assaulted her.  According to Ms. Weidemann, however, the company did not investigate these allegations or take action to protect its other clients. The perpetrator was sentenced in May 2016 to more than five years in prison for indecently assaulting nine women.     

Speaking out on behalf of all victims, Ms. Weidmann shared her victims statement in court, pledging to use her story as a catalyst to create a new lake that would require companies to report allegations of sexual assault to law enforcement. She has since worked with Rep. Meehan to help make this law a reality.

 

Danielle Quiroga

Nominated by Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA)

In 2015, Danielle was walking to work on the University of California, Merced campus when she was stabbed twice by a student. The student stabbed three other individuals during the terrorist inspired incident. After being stabbed in her chest and back, Daniel had to be airlifted and spent almost a week recovering in the hospital and returned home. After six weeks of being at home, she suffered serious complications and had to spend over 2 months in the hospital.

Today, Danielle serves as an Academic Advisor at UC Merced. She uses her experience and position as an academic advisor to help and talk with students and her colleagues about the incident. When Danielle fully recovers from her physical wounds, she plans to further her education in victimology so that she can help other victims and survivors overcome their trauma and live a fulfilling life.

 

Ed Stout Memorial Award for Outstanding Victim Advocacy

The Stout Memorial Award is in memory of Ed Stout, the Director of Aid for Victims of Crime in St. Louis. The Honoree is a professional or volunteer whose efforts have directly benefited victims and survivors of crime.

 

Network for Victim of Recovery of DC

Nominated by Rep. Jim Costa (D-CA)

Since 2012, NVRDC has successfully strengthened the landscape of victim and survivor services here in DC, and has helped develop important partnerships that fill gaps in services for crime victims. NVRDC provides vital resources for victims and survivors in Washington, DC - ranging from hospital advocates who help sexual assault survivors to legal services and trainings to help DC advocates on responding to mass crisis crimes.

Bridgette Stumpf and Nikki Charles inspire their staff and their clients. They dedicate their lives to putting victims and survivors FIRST, and provide seamless services and support for survivors in our Nation’s Capital.

 

Suzanne McDaniel Memorial Award for Public Awareness

The Public Awareness Award is in memory of Susanne McDaniel, one of the first prosecutor-based victim advocates in Texas and the nation. The honoree is an individual or organization that has used his/her/its voice, throughout the media, to promote and to bring about change at the National level for crime victims.  

 

Cindy McCain

Nominated by Rep. Ted Poe (R-TX)

Cindy McCain has dedicated her life to improving the lives of those less fortunate both here at home and abroad. Serving as the co-chair of the Arizona Governors’ Council on human trafficking and the McCain Institutes Human Trafficking Advisory Council, she is committed reducing human trafficking and improving the lives of victims of these horrendous crimes. Through her work with the McCain Institute, several partnerships have been formed with anti-trafficking organizations working on solving various aspects of the problem.