U.S. Attorney’s Office Partners with Local Law Enforcement to Commemorate National Crime Victims’ Rights Week

For Immediate Release

U.S. Attorney's Office, Eastern District of Kentucky

LEXINGTON, Ky. – The U.S. Attorney’s Office for the Eastern District of Kentucky, along with the Fayette Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, the Fayette County Attorney’s Office, the Lexington Police Department, the Office of the Fayette County Sheriff, and the Federal Bureau of Prison’s Federal Medical Center commemorated 2024’s National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW) (April 22-26, 2024) at the Lexington Crime Victims’ Rights Luncheon.

The luncheon is a collaboration of local law enforcement partners, to raise awareness about crime victims’ issues and rights, and to remind the community of the important resources and services available.  In 2022, there were nearly 20 million crime victimizations in the United States.  More than 6.6 million were the result of violent crimes, including rape or sexual assault, robbery, and aggravated and simple assault.  Of those, only about 42% were reported to police.

This local partnership commemorates and celebrates the advancement of victims’ rights and honors those who have provided outstanding victim service.  Awards were given by each agency to recognize the remarkable efforts provided by prosecutors, law enforcement officers, and victim assistance professionals across the Eastern District of Kentucky.  The U.S. Attorney’s Office honored Justin Blankenship, an Assistant United States Attorney, with the Office’s Danny Ray Smith Crime Victims’ Rights Award, named after the Office’s first Victim Witness Coordinator.  AUSA Blankenship was recognized for his extraordinary efforts in a demanding child exploitation prosecution.  Through his dedicated support of the victim and tireless prosecution, the perpetrator was convicted and sentenced to a substantial prison term.

Other award recipients from the Lexington 2024 NCVRW Luncheon include:

  • Crystal Happy-Clay, honored by the Fayette County Sheriff’s Office
  • Marisol Contreras, honored by the Lexington Police Department
  • Debbie Price, honored by the Fayette Commonwealth’s Attorney Office
  • Amy Smith-Brantley, honored by the Fayette County Attorney’s Office
  • Dr. Megan Schuster, Ph.D., honored by the BOP Federal Medical Center

The Office for Victims of Crime (OVC) of the U.S. Department of Justice leads communities throughout the country in their annual observances of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, by promoting victims’ rights and honoring crime victims and those who advocate on their behalf.  This year’s theme — How Would You Help? — invites all of us to consider how we can help crime victims, both in our professional and personal capacities.  This includes ensuring our criminal justice agencies are victim-centered, trauma-informed, and prepared to help crime victims in every way we can.  Personally, we should consider how we might help crime victims by being prepared if someone confides in us about victimization and becoming familiar with the many victim services our communities offer.  For more information about help for victims, visit ovc.ojp.gov/help-for-victims/overview.

“Ensuring the rights of victims is critically important to the criminal justice system, and we simply must celebrate and recognize this fundamental support that allows victims’ voices to be heard,” said Carlton S. Shier, IV, United States Attorney for the Eastern District of Kentucky. “Our Office is proud to partner with members of the law enforcement community to honor this dedicated support, and to renew our full commitment to victims of crime.”  

OVC and the U.S. Attorney’s Office, along with our local partners, encourage widespread participation in the week’s events and in other victim-related observances throughout the year.  On April 25, 2024, the U.S. Department of Justice will host OVC’s annual National Crime Victims’ Service Awards Ceremony, in Washington, D.C., to honor outstanding individuals and programs that serve victims of crime.

For additional information about this year’s National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, and how to assist victims in your community, please visit the U.S. Attorney’s Office website, at www.justice.gov/usao-edky.  For additional ideas on how to support victims of crime, visit OVC’s website at www.ovc.gov.

— END —

Top photo credit: Adobe Stock