Thursday, September 30, 2004

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Attorney General Abbott Honored For Efforts To Help Crime Victims

AUSTIN – Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott today received the first-ever Courage of Conviction Award from the Texas Association Against Sexual Assault (TAASA) for his work on behalf of Texas crime victims. The award recognizes Attorney General Abbott’s support for sexual assault centers across Texas; his help for victims through the Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund; and his efforts to track down and arrest sexual predators across the state.

“I am honored to receive this award from an organization that does so much to help crime victims,” said Attorney General Abbott. “Few things in life are more challenging than being a victim of crime, and few things take more courage than walking the path of a survivor. TAASA helps people cross the bridge from victim to survivor, and I am proud to work with them.”

Attorney General Abbott oversees the Sexual Assault Prevention and Crisis Services program, which provided almost $9 million in Fiscal Year 2004 to 76 sexual assault centers across Texas. These programs helped more than 12,000 survivors of sexual assault.

Last year, Attorney General Abbott and the Crime Victims Services Division of the Office of the Attorney General distributed more than $72 million to victims of crime to pay for medical, emergency expenses and a variety of other costs. Although great progress has been made in helping victims of crime, there are difficult challenges ahead. The Crime Victims’ Compensation Fund, which is the sole source of direct compensation to victims, will become insolvent in the next fiscal year if the Legislature does not act to bolster revenues that were diverted to other programs in previous legislative sessions. Earlier this year, Attorney General Abbott vowed to protect the Fund and convened a statewide group of victim advocates to look for solutions to the solvency concerns. The group will soon be issuing its findings to the Legislature.

Since Attorney General Abbott took office in December 2002, his office has arrested almost 200 sexual predators through the Cyber Crimes and Fugitive Units. Cyber Crimes Unit investigators track down online sexual predators who seek to victimize children. The Fugitives Unit, meanwhile, arrests convicted sex offenders who violate their parole.

TAASA is a non-profit educational and advocacy organization that works to promote sexual assault awareness throughout the state of Texas. The organization provides training to rape crisis personnel, law enforcement, other service agencies, community groups, and schools on topical issues related to sexual assault as well as curriculum information for sexual assault trainings.