In recognition of California's Victims' Rights Week April 22-April 26, the Contra Costa District Attorney's Office on Friday presented awards to 10 people who went "above and beyond" in supporting victims of violent crime in 2012. Here are the honorees, as described by the District Attorney's Office:
Gwyneth Andrews, clerk at the Contra Costa District Attorney's Office
Ms. Andrews has worked for the Contra Costa District Attorney's Office for 11 years. She has had many different assignments, including juvenile, sexual assault, the Richmond office, the drug unit, and the homicide unit, for which she is currently being recognized. Ms. Andrews maintains contact with victims' families to keep them informed of changes or updates on the homicide cases. She spends the extra time working with the families and the advocates to insure that they have necessary case information, and her calm, caring demeanor is truly an asset to the Unit.
Mary Blumberg, deputy district attorney at the Contra Costa District Attorney's Office
Ms. Blumberg has worked in the sexual assault unit for the past three years, and it is for the work in this unit that she is being recognized. She prosecuted 18 felony trials in the unit and earned the designation of having that unit's highest number of trial days (80) for 2012. However, it is the quality of her work with the victims, her compassion and her dedication that has resulted in successful prosecutions and in the admiration of her colleagues.
Selena Diaz, Community Violence Solutions advocate
Ms. Diaz is a victim advocate at Community Violence Solutions, a nonprofit that provides support services to child and adult victims of sexual assault and their families. She has provided court support for many Spanish-speaking victims in Contra Costa County who describe her as always understanding and responsive to their needs and concerns. She is being recognized for her outstanding service to sexual assault victims and her support of the Contra Costa District Attorney's Office, which calls upon her service frequently.
Anthony Harris, advocate at the Contra Costa County Victim Assistance Program
Mr. Harris has worked for the Contra Costa District Attorney's Office for nine years. Before coming to the office, he worked as a case worker with developmentally disabled clients, and in a psychiatric hospital as a counselor. Mr. Harris is being recognized for his work as a Victim/Witness Program Specialist (advocate) with a voluminous homicide case load. Mr. Harris has tirelessly advocated and provided support for numerous survivor families, spending months on end in court, yet he treats every case as if it is his only one with a personal touch, and a compassionate heart.
Amy Hendricks, Concord Police Department detective
Detective Hendricks began her law enforcement career in a non sworn capacity at the Concord Police Department. She has been a sworn officer for 10 years and has served in patrol, as a field training officer, in financial crimes and most recently in the special victims unit. Detective Hendricks is a member of the patrol rifle team and a qualified Dispatcher. She is being recognized for her work with sexual assault victims, particularly in the area of human trafficking, where she has become an expert in the field. In 2012, Corporal Hendricks testified more than four times as an expert in human trafficking, pimping, pandering and sexual exploitation. She is now being called upon by outside agencies for her assistance in this area. Her outstanding work culminated in the successful prosecution of Joel Williams, who exploited three prostitutes in the Concord area. Without her dedication, and compassion for this particular group of vulnerable victims, the case would never have come to light.
Lucinda Jackson, Antioch resident and crime victim
Ms. Jackson's son, Andrew Le'Mar Green, was killed outside his Pittsburg home in 2010 by his ex-girlfriend and the mother of his child, Jennell Wright, who is awaiting sentencing on a first-degree murder conviction. Since the murder, Ms. Jackson has been raising Green and Wright's son, her 6-year-old grandson Savion. Ms. Jackson has persevered through two jury trials. She testified in the second trial, and she maintained her composure and her attitude of forgiveness throughout that process. She has reached out to Ms. Wright's family for the sake of the child. She was recognized for her courage, selflessness and compassion in a time of personal tragedy.
Tom Kensok, assistant district attorney at the Contra Costa District Attorney's Office.
A 25-year veteran prosecutor for Contra Costa County, Mr. Kensok has been assigned to various units within the office, including the drug unit, auto insurance fraud and three strikes. He has served as a misdemeanor team leader, prosecuted sexually violent predator and mental health cases, but most notable is his work in gang prosecution, which he has done since 1999. Mr. Kensok is being recognized for his work on project Ceasefire, a communication and identification strategy being implemented in the West Contra Costa County area targeting the most violent gang members. This innovative program, which combines law enforcement and community outreach, has already had a significant impact in the West County area.
Rob McSorley, Pittsburg Police Department detective
Detective McSorley is a 10-year veteran of the Pittsburg Police Department. He has been a detective in the crimes persons division for 4 ½ years. Detective McSorley is being recognized because he is passionate about helping crime victims. Detective McSorley is always quick to follow up on information to protect victims. In a case in 2012, Detective McSorley spoke with a victim and his mother over and over again, building their trust in the prosecution of the case. Without his constant assurances and concern for their safety, the victim would not have testified. He goes above and beyond to communicate with them and to insure that they feel safe. He gains the trust of victims and helps them trust in the criminal justice system.
Shawn Pate, senior inspector at the Contra Costa District Attorney's Office
Pate began his career in 1997 at the Contra Costa County Sheriff's Office. He worked in the jail, patrol and "J Team," a special investigations unit and the homicide unit where Senior Inspector Pate developed his expertise in the West Contra Costa County gang culture. Prior to his law enforcement career, he was a member of the elite Air Force Pararescue Team. He is also being recognized for his work on project Ceasefire, a multiagency effort to combat homicides in the West County area. Senior Inspector Pate has lent his gang expertise to the effort that has led to a reduction of homicides in the city of Richmond from 45 three years ago to 18 last year.
Aaron Ross, senior inspector at the Contra Costa District Attorney's Office
Ross is a 12-year veteran of the Benicia and Vacaville Police Departments. He also served as coordinator for the Napa Valley Police Academy. As a police officer, he was noted for his work with juveniles. In particular, he designed and implemented the VPD's ADAPT program, which sought to reduce alcohol and drug use by at-risk youth. Senior Inspector Ross is being recognized for his dedication to crime victims, and his willingness to spend whatever time necessary to assist them and insure their safety. To illustrate his dedication, on one occasion in 2012, Senior Inspector Ross met with a victim in an attempted murder case at the halfway house where he was living. He met with his parents, even though he was an adult. He helped him understand his medical bills and kept in touch with him and his mother throughout the proceedings. In another case in 2012, Senior Inspector Ross went to court every day with a victim and sat with him at lunch, over a period of several days.