The Victims Witness Program, a little-known team lead by Chris Allred within the Weber County Attorney’s office, ensures victims’ rights are respected and explained thoroughly. For many victims, coming forward to report a crime is daunting, and often, the process is confusing. For example, reports show only 310 out of every 1,000 sexual assaults are reported to the police. While 50 of those reports will lead to arrests, 28 cases will lead to a felony conviction, and only 25 perpetrators will be incarcerated. Victims often don’t report the crime in an unfruitful effort to protect the household or prevent a recurrence or escalation. Unfortunately, by not reporting the crime or not following through on pressing charges, the likelihood of a recurrence to the same victim or additional victims is high.
Most counties and cities do not have victims’ advocates or witness coordinators, making Weber County’s program all the more unique and critical. Victim witness coordinators explain the criminal justice processes, go to court with the victim, make sure their rights are upheld, and that their voice is heard.
Jamie Pitt, the victims coordinator supervisor for the Weber County Attorney’s Office, explained, “Last year alone, we sent out over 10,000 letters to victims to help them through the process. We just keep trying, going to their homes, making sure they are notified, and checking with them on resolutions.” Pitt continued, “We don’t just dismiss the situation because someone calls in and says they want to drop the case. Reporting a sexual assault can be terrifying, and knowing what to do or who to talk to is difficult. However, Victims Advocates are here to help you, believe you, and fight for you and your case.”
The Weber County Attorneys’ office recently won a trial where a traumatic sexual assault victim initially hesitated to participate. Locating the victim was a feat in itself. The Victims Advocates team went to four different houses, called her multiple times, and finally successfully set up a time to meet at a park. Jamie went on to tell the victim: “We believe you, we believed you for four years, so please don’t give up. We can get this done.” After all these efforts, they were able to persuade her to testify. The victim ended up staying for the whole trial, and the law rightfully prosecuted her offender so he would not be able to hurt others again.
Chris Allred, Weber County Attorney, spoke of the program stating, “Victim services are a critical component of the Weber County Attorney’s Office, as they are the ones most directly impacted by criminal activity. We have made obtaining justice and restitution for victims a primary focus of our prosecution philosophy.”