Updated 04/27/2009 05:49 PM
ACA shootings bring Crime Victims' Rights Week to light
BINGHAMTON, N.Y. -- "Twenty-five years ago, let's say a woman was raped. If she went to the hospital, there was no forensic exam and if there was any kind of examination, she was billed for it. There was no protection for her to go to court. She was scrutinized for her behavior," said Raini Baudendistel, the Crime Victims Assistance Center executive director.
But 25 years ago, President Ronald Reagan signed legislation that made sure victims would get full support for everything from monetary to emotional assistance.
This year's Crime Victims' Rights Week serves as a painful reminder for the Binghamton community after 13 people were killed on April 3rd in the ACA shootings. Senator Tom Libous and Assemblywoman Donna Lupardo sponsored a joint resolution this week to pay tribute to the ACA victims.
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"It's deeply personal for her and quite frankly our entire community. And respect, compassion, dignity are all basic rights of those who have been victimized," said Mike Kennerknecht, Assemblywoman Lupardo's chief of staff.
"Never forsake or forget or take for granted the lives that were lost. We should remember them and that we should honor them and this is a perfect way to help the community heal in this situation with an observance of an entire week of crime victims' rights," said Kevin McCabe, Governor David Paterson's regional representative.
The tragedy has highlighted the large role of the Crime Victims Assistance Center. Since the day of the shootings, volunteers have worked non-stop on short-term needs such as funeral arrangements and lodging for family members to long-term needs for counseling.
"It's not over. There's a lot of people that are still going to need counseling, victims' friends and family and also the people who responded themselves," said Matthew Ryan, the Binghamton mayor.
"We do make a difference. I see that every day and we're with people at the time that they absolutely need us the most," said Baudendistel.
Victims will continue to be remembered at a vigil Tuesday night.
The Crime Victims Assistance Center continues to look for volunteers. If you would like to find out more about how you can help, contact the Binghamton office at (607) 723-3200.