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National Crime Victims’ Rights Week kicks off in Utah with vigil

Posted at 9:00 PM, Apr 18, 2021
and last updated 2021-04-18 23:20:13-04

SALT LAKE CITY — Sunday evening on the steps of the Utah State Capitol, city and state leaders alongside survivors spoke about what needs to be done to help crime victims.

The goals are to support victims, build trust and engage communities.

It is important to give crime victims a voice and work to help those in need, according to Tallie Viteri, the assistant director for the Utah Office for Victims of Crime.

“A lot of people don’t really know about crime victims’ rights or crime victim services until they are a crime victim,” she said.

Viteri added that throughout the pandemic, there have unfortunately been more cases of people being victims to crimes — especially in domestic violence-related incidents.

“Crime victimization has been on the rise in the past year, especially for crimes at home,” she said.

READ: Ogden woman killed by ex remembered; Domestic violence advocates offer help

Several local leaders, including Salt Lake City Mayor Erin Mendenhall, Consul of Mexico Jose Borjon and Utah state Rep. Angela Romero, spoke at the vigil Sunday afternoon. All three spoke about making changes and offering support for all victims in ways without any barriers such as language or cultural differences.

Many survivors stood up on the podium to share their stories, including people who were victims of sexual assault, human trafficking, gun violence and more. Rob Moolman, the executive director of the Utah Pride Center, spoke about the unacceptable behavior and crimes against people for their sexual orientation or gender identification.

Courtney Earnhart also made her way to the podium to speak and share her story.

“When I turned 11, I experienced physical and sexual abuse from a family member. This went on until I was about 18 years old,” she said.

Her abuser was prosecuted, but her trauma was far from over, she said.

“They came back home after being released and I kind of went crazy. I started running in the road, jumping in front of cars in kind of a suicidal lunatic kind of type thing going on there," she said. "I became notorious."

Earnhart was hospitalized 19 times and was charged with multiple crimes.

READ: Woman causes multiple accidents by running onto I-15 in Draper

“I was a trauma victim that was now traumatizing others,” she said.

Then, she was able to get the help she needed. Now, her mission is to help others and show victims there is hope.

“I need to get out there — I need to be there for those who need it,” she said.

For more information on crime victim resources in Utah, click here.

If you are a victim of domestic violence, click here for more information on the Utah Domestic Violence Coalition.