ORANGE COUNTY DISTRICT ATTORNEY PRESS RELEASE
Remarks for Orange County Victims’ Rights March & Rally
April 24, 2015
Every year we’ve had this event it’s been too hot. This year I prayed for cooler weather… I must have prayed just a little too hard.
Come rain or shine:
Remembering those we have lost, honoring those who have survived, and celebrating the tenacity and strength of the people who carry on the fight for justice – Welcome to the 7th Annual Orange County Victims’ Rights March & Rally.
Please stand as Senator Janet Nguyen representing the 34th District will lead us in a Moment of Silence.
Senator Janet Nguyen:
Good morning. The victims’ rights movement recently lost a giant and a pioneer. Last month, after a long illness, Marcella Nicholas Leach, at the age of 85, was reunited with her daughter Marsy, who was brutally murdered in 1983 by an ex-boyfriend. Marcella helped build Justice for Homicide Victims, one of California’s early victims’ rights organizations, and was a signatory for Marsy’s Law which established a constitutional right for victims in California. In honor of Marcella, Marsy, and all of the victims we have lost, please join me in observing a moment of silence.
Thank you, Janet.
Please remain standing.
Now Santa Ana PD Deputy Chief David Valentin, will call to attention, the Santa Ana Police Department Honor Guard and lead us in the Pledge of Allegiance. Deputy District Attorney Charlyn Bender will be singing the National Anthem after the Presentation of the Colors.
Deputy Chief David Valentin:
In remembrance of police officers who were killed while on duty please join me in reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
You may be seated.
I would now like to introduce the other guests who have joined me on stage.
To my left are Ryan and Richard Girgis, the sons of the murder victim Ariet Girgis, and Rosalia, sexual assault survivor. To my right are Senator Janet Nguyen and Congressman Dana Rohrabacher and OC Board of Supervisors Michelle Park Steel.
Before we begin, I want to thank our co-sponsors, benefactors, and volunteers who helped to underwrite and support this event: First and foremost, I want to thank the Orange County Sheriff’s Department and Santa Ana Police Department for their time and support in coordinating this event. The Sheriff’s Department also provided the sound system and its engineers, and Santa Ana PD provided the motor escort and the Honor Guard. I would also like to thank OC Parks for allowing us to use this beautiful courthouse today; Association of Orange County Deputy District Attorneys – Civic Action Committee; Orange County District Attorney Investigators Association; Mothers Against Drunk Driving; Dr. Henry Nicholas the Third; Michael Schroeder; Susan Kang Schroeder; and Starbucks on 17th and Grand for their generous donations. I would like to pay a special thanks to Community Service Programs, who not only dedicate their time and service to this event, but who dedicate their time and service to victims, day in and day out. Thank you.
Assemblyman Matthew Harper of the 74th District will come up to acknowledge the elected officials and dignitaries who have joined us for this rally.
Thank you for the opportunity to join the following dignitaries to honor the struggle of victims and to celebrate their spirit to survive. These political leaders are demonstrating through their presence here today their commitment to victims’ rights and providing our community with the resources to continue protecting public safety.
Thank you for holding your applause until the end: Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, Orange County Treasurer-Tax Collector Shari Freidenrich, Laguna Woods City Councilmember Shari Horn, Senator Bob Huff, Assemblywoman Young Kim, Senator Janet Nguyen, Orange County Assessor Claude Parrish, Congressman Dana Rohrabacher, Mission Viejo Councilmember Ed Sachs, Chairman of the Board of Supervisors Todd Spitzer, and Supervisor Michelle Steel
We have representatives from the offices of:Board of Equalization Member Diane Harkey, Congressman Darrell Issa, and Assemblyman Tom Daly.
Assemblyman Matthew Harper:
In Orange County, 46 law enforcement partners work hard every day to investigate crimes, apprehend perpetrators, and bring them to justice. Above that, police officers and prosecutors provide compassion and comfort to victims throughout and even after the process, starting out from giving out Marsy’s Law card to the victim upon first contact, to staying in touch with the victims after the conviction, to appearing at parole hearings to make sure the inmate is denied parole.
The law enforcement representatives here today are: California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitations, California Highway Patrol, Irvine Police Department, Laguna Beach Police Department, Orange County Human Trafficking Task Force, Orange Police Department, Orange County Sheriff’s Department, Orange County Probation Department, Santa Ana Police Department, and Westminster Police Department.
Most of the police chiefs are actually attending their annual meeting and have sent a representative.
We have many victims’ groups represented here today. Here is Assemblywoman Young Kim of the 65th District to recognize them.
Community Service Programs, California Victim Compensation Program, FoRe! International, iSanctuary, the Joyful Child Foundation, Junior League of Orange County, Justice for Homicide Victims, Justice For Murdered Children, Lives of Promise, Memory of Victims Everywhere, Mothers Against Drunk Driving, National Association for the Advancement of Colored People, Orange County Child Abuse Prevention Center, Parents of Murdered Children, A Quarter Blue, Stop Human Trafficking Action Group, and Veterans First . These groups play a vital role in helping victims and advocating for reform.
Many of our past keynote speakers are also here with us today. They have shared their stories, opened their hearts to us, and I’m so appreciative to have their continued support and participation. Please stand up and be recognized: Collene Campbell, sister of murder victim Mickey Thompson and mother of murder victim Scott Campbell. Ryan Hawks, son of murder victims Thomas and Jackie Hawks. Donna Bjion, sister of murder victim Katherine O’Connell. Rachel Alvarado, mother of murder victim Lannette Alvarado. John Steves, husband of murder victim Mara Steves. And Dr. Henry Nicholas the Third, brother of murder victim Marsy Nicholas. Let’s welcome them back with a round of applause.
Orange County is and always has been the place where reform begins. Over the past five years, you’ve heard me talk about the 40-year fight for crime victims’ rights and criminal justice reform. You’ve heard me talk about working to recall California Chief Justice Rose Bird and two other rogue justices, working to pass the Crime Victims Justice Reform Act Proposition 115, Gang reform Proposition 21, DNA reform Proposition 69, fighting against the weakening of Three Strikes Law by opposing Proposition 66 and against the repeal of the death penalty by opposing Proposition 34, passing Megan’s Law, Jessica’s Law, Marsy’s Law, and many others. You’ve been with us as we’ve continued to work on behalf of victims to secure your rights.
Assemblywoman Young Kim:
Now for the reason we are all here today – to never forget the ones we have lost, to heal from the harm that’s been caused, to triumph over evil and take back the power.
I see so many of you with buttons, posters, and pictures. Can you all please stand so we can see the faces of your loved ones?
I have vowed to you each year that we will never stop working for you as long as there are new victims of crime, and I’m pleased to share with you today the newest efforts in that fight.
During the last several days, we appealed a judge’s sentence that we found woefully inadequate for a violent child molester. We worked with the FBI to bring back a fugitive child molester on the OCDA’s Top 10 Most Wanted to serve out his sentence of 56 years that he received in 1991. We continue to object to delays in trial and fight to get evidence in cases.
Here are some bills we have in the works: Senate Bill 722 by Senator Patricia Bates which would create a felony penalty for any convicted sex offender who willfully removes or disables their Global Positioning System (GPS) tracking device and ensure that justice is being served to those who defy law enforcement.
We are supporting Assembly Bill 860 by Assemblyman Tom Daly which would close a loophole in the law to address sexual predators who provide professional services and prey on vulnerable victims.
We are sponsoring Assembly Bill 201 by Assemblyman William Brough clarifying that local agencies are not preempted from regulating where registered sex offenders can go within their city or county.
Did anyone here choose to be violated? No. Did anyone here choose the pain? No. But you did choose to survive! You did choose to fight! And together we will stand up for what is right, what is justice, and against evil. You did not choose to be in pain. But what you did choose, is to fight and stand up to evil, and by being here you are proclaiming it to the world: no we are not going to take it.
Here is Congressman Dana Rohrabacher who will introduce our guests of honor Richard and Ryan Girgis, who will be followed by Orange County Supervisor Michelle Steel who will introduce Rosalia—
Congressman Dana Rohrabacher:
As a father of triplets, my heart goes out to the next two speakers. They are extremely brave, and they had to face one of the worst experiences in life. Ryan and Richard Girgis’ mother was brutally murdered in 2004 by hit men in their own home. Ariet Girgis had testified against the defendant in a domestic violence case a few days before. Their father planned the murder and hired a hitman to prevent her from testifying further, to avoid the cost of divorce, and to avoid loss of his license as a respiratory therapist. Ryan Girgis was bound and gagged and forced into a closet while his mother was murdered in her bedroom with a sharp object. After waiting 9 agonizing years, often suspecting their father as the murderer, Magdi Girgis was finally charged and brought to trial. They both testified in a trial that convicted Magdi Girgis, who was later sentenced to life in state prison without the possibility of parole for the 2004 solicitation-murder of his wife. These men showed incredible character to stand up for their mother and never give up on getting justice for her.
Please help welcome Richard and Ryan to speak about their journey.
Supervisor Michelle Park Steel:
As a mother of two daughters, it is my honor to introduce Rosalia. It is impossible to comprehend what Rosalia went through and survived and how she is now thriving. For several months when she was only 11, she had to endure being sexually assaulted by the defendant and having to watch him do the same to her sisters. She even had to console her young sisters when they complained of pain. Her bravery is why we were able secure a conviction against this horrible monster. She not only told her mom, she faced the defendant in court and told the jury what he did to them. And because of her, the defendant is now serving 155 years to life in state prison and will never hurt another child again.
Rosalia is now 16. She is our hero. Please help me welcome Rosalia.
Chairman Todd Spitzer, Former Supervisor and now Senator Janet Nguyen, please join me on stage. The Orange County Board of Supervisors is pleased to present Community Services Partnership with their acknowledgement. I would like to invite up Ronatta Johnson.
Dr. Nicholas, here is a Board of Supervisors resolution in honor of Marsella.
I also see in the crowd Erin Runnion, mother of Samantha Runnion. Thank you for being here.
As prosecutors and police officers, we face many difficult days. But we keep forging ahead because even on our worst day, it pales in comparison to what Ryan, Richard, and Rosalia have gone through. They inspire us, they keep us going.
Babe Ruth once said, “it’s hard to beat a person who never gives up.” We are never going to give up trying to protect innocent people who must live in gang neighborhoods through gang injunctions and we will never give up on going after gang members. We will continue to stand up for victims – of human trafficking, murder, sexual assault, and all the crimes that you are here speaking out against today. Criminals must understand, there will always be more of us than them, and good will always triumph over evil.
Thank you for the privilege of being able to serve you. We dedicate our public life and service to all those harmed by crime, to bring justice, to fight your fight, and to defend your rights. Every year, we will work together to assert our rights and protect our community.
Thank you for coming to this March and Rally, which reminds us each year of all that we must do, and strengthens our resolve to not give up. By speaking up for victims, you empower all victims to have a voice.
Thank you all for coming out today, wearing your t-shirts, holding your signs, and carrying your loved one’s pictures in your hand and their spirits in your hearts.
I wish you peace and strength until we see each other – next year.
TONY RACKAUCKAS, District Attorney
Susan Kang Schroeder, Chief of Staff