The successful passage of a Missouri constitutional amendment regarding child sex crimes was the focus of the annual victims’ rights breakfast hosted by the Platte County Prosecuting Attorney’s office. Members of the community joined crime victims, law enforcement officers, prosecutors, and others on April 24 as part of national crime victims’ rights week.
Platte County Prosecuting Attorney Eric Zahnd said, “In many ways, this year’s breakfast was a celebration. The voters’ enactment of Constitutional Amendment 2 was a significant step forward in victims’ rights and will help generations of children.”
Constitutional Amendment 2, which passed with 80% of the vote in November 2014, allows juries to know about a criminal defendant’s prior sex crimes in child sex abuse trials. Prior to its passage, Missouri law was more restrictive than any other state and the federal government in preventing jurors from knowing the criminal past of a repeat sex offender.
Zahnd co-chaired the campaign that led to the passage of the amendment. The idea to change the law originated with Chris Seufert, an assistant prosecutor in Zahnd’s office.
The breakfast featured a keynote address by NaToyia Wilson. Wilson, who advocated for the passage Constitutional Amendment 2, shared her own powerful story as the victim of sexual abuse by a family member. That man was finally convicted decades later of abusing another family member.
Wilson currently works for the civil rights division of the Kansas City Human Relations Department. She previously served as a victim advocate in the Johnson County, Kansas District Attorney’s Office.
Jennifer Atterbury received the Tenth Annual Sara Andrasek Memorial award for her work in raising funds to secure the passage of Amendment 2. Atterbury is currently a prosecutor in Lee’s Summit and previously served as a prosecutor for Jackson County. She has also served as board president of Child Protection Center and as board member for the Metropolitan Organization to Counter Sexual Assault.
Zahnd said, “NaToyia Wilson and Jennifer Atterbury spent many hours supporting Amendment 2, and they have spent countless other hours helping abused children. They are inspiring examples of what can happen when people choose to give back to their community.”
The Sara Andrasek Memorial Award is given each year in the memory of the Platte County woman who was raped and murdered in 2001 while pregnant with her first child. Zahnd’s office and the Kansas City, Missouri Police Department were in the final stages of preparing a death penalty case against Wayne Dumond when Dumond died while in custody.
The event was coordinated by Tanya Faherty, who is the victim advocate in Zahnd’s office. It began ten years ago at the urging of Jill Baker, who is a legal assistant in Zahnd’s office.
If you need more information, please contact our office’s media liaison, Jill Baker.
Eric G. Zahnd
Platte County Prosecuting Attorney
415 Third Street, Suite 60
Platte City, Missouri64079
(816) 858-3472 (fax)