Morris County Proclaims April 18-24 National Victims’ Rights Week
Published on April 21, 2021
Proclamation Presented as Morris County Prosecutor Hosted Virtual Ceremony
The 40th Anniversary of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week is being observed in Morris County this week, from April 18 through April 24, 2021, under a proclamation issued by the Morris County Board of County Commissioners and presented to the Morris County Prosecutor’s Office this week.
Commissioner Director Stephen H. Shaw displayed the proclamation during a virtual ceremony yesterday organized and hosted by Acting Morris County Prosecutor Robert J. Carroll and his staff.
“Crimes cannot simply be forgotten by their victims. Today we reaffirm that we will not forget to defend and expand the hard-fought rights of crime victims. With this proclamation, the Morris County Board of County Commissioners declares this week of April 18 through April 24 to be National Crime Victims’ Rights Week in Morris County,” Director Shaw said.
Morris County Sheriff James Gannon also attended the event, where the guest speakers included Diane Williams, President & CEO of JBWS Safety, Support & Solutions for Abuse; Maria Vinci Savettierre, Esq., Executive Director of Deirdre’s House, The Center for Morris County’s Child Victims, and Carolyn Dean, Executive Director of Community Outreach and Support at NewBridge Services, Inc.
Director Shaw and Prosecutor Carroll both noted that Morris County has played an historical role in championing victims’ rights in New Jersey, particularly through the efforts of the late James O’Brien of Mendham Township. His 25-year-old daughter, Deirdre, was murdered by a would-be serial killer who was eventually caught and imprisoned, and the loss spurred Mr. O’Brien to champion victims’ rights causes and laws in New Jersey for the rest of his life.
“In recognizing the 40th Anniversary of National Crime Victims’ Rights Week, we must remember it was a heinous crime right here in Morris County, on Dec. 5, 1982, that gave rise to one of the most ardent and effective advocates for victims’ rights in New Jersey,” said Director Shaw. “Partly because of Jim O’Brien, New Jersey finally adopted a state Constitutional Amendment for Victim's Rights in 1991. It was a major turning point for victims.”
Mr. O’Brien was elected in 1992 to the Morris County Board of Chosen Freeholders (now called the Board of County Commissioners) and he became Director of the Board. In 1996, Morris County opened Deirdre’s House, The Center for Morris County’s Child Victims in honor of O’Brien’s slain daughter, and that same year he was appointed Commissioner of the New Jersey Victim's Rights Compensation Board.
Mr. O’Brien held that job until he and his wife moved to Maryland in 2001. He died 2014 at age 84.