Those who `go unnoticed' honored for their service to crime victims

Pasadena couple chosen for foster care efforts

Anne Arundel

April 29, 2004|By Andrea F. Siegel | Andrea F. Siegel,SUN STAFF

A Pasadena husband and wife who have taken in more than 100 foster children over 15 years were among those honored yesterday by the Anne Arundel County prosecutor's office for extraordinary service to crime victims.

Victim advocate Shelley George of the prosecutor's office recalled how John and Bernice Newman showed a scared 11-year-old girl "love, understanding and compassion," helping her to speak about abuse by her father.

The child's decision enabled prosecutors to move forward with charges against the man, who pleaded guilty to assault.

The girl was among the many adolescents the Newmans have taken in over the years because, said John Newman, "no one else would take teen-age girls."

The couple remains in contact with many of their former foster children, often celebrating birthdays with them.

Bernice Newman can even tell visitors which of them have gotten married and have children of their own, George said.

The annual program of the county State's Attorney's Office, held in recent years at the Anne Arundel County Court House, commemorates Victims' Rights Week, which is marked around the country.

"It's hard to recognize people who do outstanding work for victims. They go unnoticed. They come to court, and they testify and then they are gone," said State's Attorney Frank R. Weathersbee, who said Victims' Rights Week is an appropriate time to acknowledge their help.

The other award recipients were:

Dr. Allen R. Walker, medical director of the pediatric emergency department at Johns Hopkins Children's Center in Baltimore. He received the Warren B. Duckett Jr. Commitment to Justice award for helping police and prosecutors work through difficult cases, testifying last year for a bill that later passed the legislature to stiffen penalties for child abuse, and for what Weathersbee characterized as inspiration and dedication.

Edward Hall and Rowland Hauser, who were recognized for preventing a sexual assault on a woman in Annapolis last year by responding to her screams. After the man ran off, Hall tackled him and held him for police while Hauser stayed on the telephone with a 911 dispatcher.

Immigration and Naturalization Service special agent John Van Wie, honored for catching a purse-snatcher for police in Annapolis last fall - the suspect still had the purse in his hand when police arrived.

Anne Arundel County police detectives Sharon McAllister and Timothy Holevas, commended for their work with victims of economic crimes and for helping victims get past the trauma of their situation while they pursue investigations.

U.S. Park Police Det. Michelle Ludwick, honored for doggedly pursuing the investigation into a March 2002 hit-and-run crash on the Baltimore-Washington Parkway that left Jessica Wacker, 20, in a coma for five months before she died.

Deputy State's Attorney William D. Roessler said the award paid tribute to "three remarkable women" - the victim, the detective and the victim's mother, who has been trying to ensure that the person who killed her daughter turns his life around.

Tomorrow, the prosecutor's chief investigator, David H. Cordle, will be given the Governor's Victim Assistance Award. Cordle is also an Annapolis City alderman.

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