On Wednesday, crime victims, their advocates, members of law enforcement and others gathered at the Georgetown Community Center to show support of victims of violent crime. April 22-28 is National Crime Victims' Rights Week. This year's theme is "Extending the Vision, Reaching Every Victim."
At the ceremony, former crime victim Maria Elena Orozco, gave a very heartfelt and inspiring speech about her life experiences. She said that many female members of the Hispanic community, if victimized by domestic abuse, choose to ignore it and not even discuss it with others. She was abused by her husband and finally decided to leave him. When she left, she had only $20 in her purse and a five year old daughter to care for. She arrived at Round Rock Police Department and many folks then helped her, including the victim advocates there, folks with Hope Alliance, our local battered women's shelter and many others. She did not speak English and soon was taking English as a Second Language classes. She went on to take classes to become a nurse. Now, she is remarried to a very nice man, works as a nurse and her sixteen year old daughter is happy and healthy. Ms. Orozco is the author of the book, Survivor to Thriver.
Also at the ceremony, a host of people working in the county to help victims were honored as follows:
-Michael Cox, Asst. County Attorney
-Dee Hobbs, Criminal Courts Chief of the County Attorney's Office
-Trooper Nate Head, Texas Department of Public Safety
-Sergeant David Denson, Williamson County Sheriff's Office
-Detective JR Hicks, Williamson County Sheriff's Office
-Detective Christopher Dailey, Cedar Park Police Department
-Officer Kristy Whitley-Britt, Cedar Park Police Department
-Detective Jeff Hill, Round Rock Police Department
-Cody Henson, Assistant District Attorney
-Sergeant Dale Duncan, Georgetown Police Department
-Detective Donald Foiles, Williamson County Sheriff's Office
-Detective Amy Larson, Taylor Police Department
Additionally, both County Attorney Jana Duty and District Attorney John Bradley, who are currently running against each other in the upcoming Republican primary, made remarks. Mr. Bradley said in reaction to Ms. Orozco's remarks, "Maria, you inspire me. It is too rare that we hear stories such as yours." He said that he would love to see the room filled with Marias in the future.
I was honored to play a small part in the ceremony again this year. I read a proclamation adopted by the commissioners court commemorating Crime Victims Week. On Nov. 24, 1990, Vincent Gordon murdered my grandmother in her home in Georgetown. He was apprehended using DNA evidence in 2005 and pled guilty. He is currently in prison. As a member of a family victimized by violent crime, I appreciate the efforts to assist other victims, but we still have a long way to go to improve victims' rights.