|TRENTON – Acting Attorney General John J. Hoffman announced today that an Essex County Assistant Prosecutor and a Middlesex County sexual abuse survivor who became a victim advocate will be honored at a statewide Crime Victims’ Rights Week event this week for their dedication to providing outstanding services to victims of crime.
According to Acting Attorney General Hoffman, Romesh Sukhdeo, of Montclair, and Mark Crawford, of Avenel, will receive the first-ever Office of Attorney General Excellence Awards for Victims’ Justice at a statewide program celebrating Crime Victims’ Rights Week. The program is held annually to reaffirm New Jersey’s commitment to enforce victims’ rights and address their needs. The event is co-sponsored by the New Jersey Division of Criminal Justice, the Victims of Crime Compensation Office and the State Office of Victim-Witness Advocacy.
“This year marks the 30th anniversary of the Victims of Crime Act, which changed the landscape of victim rights and services nationwide,” Acting Attorney General Hoffman said. “Through their relentless efforts, the men being honored at this week’s ceremony change the landscape every day within their own communities and throughout New Jersey.”
"These deserving award winners simply do it all,” said Division of Criminal Justice Director Elie Honig. "From making sure that a grieving family can navigate through the criminal justice system to providing an opportunity for survivors to stand up for themselves, these winners are pillars of strength for countless crime victims."
Essex County Supervising Assistant Prosecutor Sukhdeo will receive the Gladiator Award. This award recognizes an Assistant Prosecutor or Detective who has demonstrated extraordinary commitment and zeal to ensure that the criminal justice system serves the victims during the prosecution and that the victim is treated with compassion and dignity.
Deputy Chief Assistant Prosecutor Gwendolyn Williams nominated Sukhdeo, writing, “He was one of two assistant prosecutors assigned to the 2007 school yard cases, in which three young college students were killed and one was shot and left for dead. He kept the victim and victim survivors families informed on the legal process. When victim survivor family members had issues with their employers, he didn’t hesitate to assist them so they could be present at each stage of the court proceedings. All defendants were either found guilty at trial or pled guilty. Whenever the victim survivors have vigils celebrating the life of their loved one, Mr. Sukhdeo is present.”
Crawford will receive the Ronald W. Reagan Award. Crawford was chosen for his long-term commitment to victims' rights and services, extraordinary efforts on behalf of victims, delivery of compassionate services to victims and advocacy for victims via legislation, policies and other measures.
Crawford is a survivor of sexual abuse as a child who is currently the New Jersey State Director of the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests. In nominating Crawford, Senator Joseph Vitale wrote, “In 2005, Mark was appointed New Jersey State Director of SNAP, a position he still holds today. Mark receives contacts weekly from sexual abuse victims throughout the country, and spends time listening and educating victims who are often in a raw emotional state.” Senator Vitale continued, “Because of Mark’s efforts, many individuals, after living in years of silence and shame, learned of their predators crimes and came forward themselves, finally getting help and holding their offender accountable.”
These men will join three women from South Jersey in being honored at the Crime Victims’ Rights Week event on Wednesday at 10:30 a.m. at the Hughes Justice Complex in Trenton.