National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW) April 18–24, 2021
By Anna Nasset and Sue Russell
The theme of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (NCVRW) this year is support victims, build trust and engage communities.
This article will demonstrate just how the Mad River Valley has and continues to support victims, build trust and engage communities. The faces of crime victims are our family, friends, neighbors and community members. Today, we want to highlight some of the faces you know and urge you to be aware of the unknown victims of crime in your community
Recently, we, Anna Nasset and Sue Russell, along with Vermont victim advocate Amy Farr and national victim advocate Anne Seymour, spent time together on The Mend. The Mend is a podcast hosted by Anna, sponsored by the Center for Crime Victim Services, which also airs on MRVTV. Together, we looked back at Sue’s story and the victim service field’s growth over the last 30 years.
Sue, formerly a Mad River Valley resident, shared her survivorship story. In June 1992, she was kidnapped, raped and nearly beaten to death by a man she did not know but who had also lived in the Mad River Valley. He was captured four days later and served 23 years in prison. He was released in April 2015. As he had served his time, his only requirement was to be placed on the Vermont Sex Offender registry list. He was considered untreated and had a high risk to re-offend.
We also discussed the Mad River Valley’s community response when the offender was released. The Valley’s response was truly unique and set a precedent for other communities to follow. The response provided fits right in with this year’s NCVR theme. It supported Sue and other victims and built trust among the community. And it engaged the community. Along with other community support activities, a Mad River Valley forum was held the night before his release. A panel of professionals such as representatives from law enforcement, the VT Sex Offender registry, victim advocates, including Amy and Anne, came together to engage the broader community on support for Sue, her family and safety for the wider community.
Anna shared snippets of her story of victimhood and survivorship (stalked by a stranger for over a decade who has often threatened harm), highlighting the safety she felt in the Mad River Valley community. Anna shared that once she learned of Sue’s story, after moving here and the incredible community response, she knew that she had found a place where she would be safely held and protected by her community when the offender in her case is released.
We, Sue and Anna, agreed if it were not for the trust built with their victim service providers and the support they received when moving through the criminal justice system, they would not be able to share their stories and move through their lives in the ways they have chosen. Both Anne Seymour and Amy Farr played vital roles in Sue’s case, and Anna was fortunate enough to work with Amy, preparing her for trial.
The Mend podcast also discussed Amy, Anne and Sue’s involvement in the victim rights movement and the changes they have seen and facilitated over the years. Victims have many more rights than they did in 1992, but all agreed, there is a long journey ahead.
This two-part episode of The Mend truly embodies the theme of this year’s National Crime Victims’ Rights Week. You can view it at various times on MRVTV and links to the podcast and YouTube recording can be found on https://www.standupresources.com/podcast.