MORRISTOWN, NJ – Roxbury Police Chief James Simonetti will be the honored guest next week at a ceremony in Morristown to honor victims and advocates of victims’ rights, it was announced today.
Simonetti, who could not be reached for comment, is president of the Morris County Police Chiefs Association. “One of the association’s missions includes making sure the prevention, detection and prosecution of crimes are ever improving to better serve the needs of victims,” said Morris County Prosecutor’s Office Deputy Chief Denise Arseneault.
The ceremony will take place April 22 at 11 a.m. in the Morris County Freeholders meeting room within the county administration building in Morristown. It is being conducted as part of the 2015 National Crime Victims’ Rights Week (April 19-25).
The keynote speaker at the ceremony will be Maria Vinci-Savettiere, a lawyer who is the executive director of the Deirdre O’Brien Child Advocacy Center, also known as Diedre’s House, according to the prosecutor’s office. The center is a nationally accredited child advocacy center. It was named after the murdered daughter of Jim and Georgia O’Brien.
Diedre O'Brien, 25, of Mendham, was raped and murdered in 1982 by James Koedatich, a serial killer who also murdered 18-year-old Amy Hoffman of Parsippany. Koedatich remains incarcerated.
Jim O’Brien, who died in December, became a passionate victims’ rights advocate. He also served as a Morris County freeholder and as chairman of the state Victims of Crime Compensation Board.
“National Crimes Victims’ Rights Week has been a time of national remembrance since 1981,” said the prosecutor’s office in a statement. “It is an opportunity for communities, victims and their loved ones, and professionals serving victims, to join together and reflect on the progress achieved in victims’ rights.”
The prosecutor’s office said the theme of this year’s week is “Engaging Communities, Empowering Victims,” which “emphasizes the role of the entire community, individually and collectively, to support victims of crime and empower them to direct their own recovery.”
The prosecutor’s office pointed out victims “did not have rights, access to crime victim compensation or services to help rebuild their lives” three decades ago. “They were often excluded from courtrooms, treated as an afterthought by the criminal justice system and denied an opportunity to speak at sentencing.”