Why Victim Impact Statements?
Victim Impact Statements provide crime victims and survivors with a deeply-needed opportunity to give voice to aspects of the pain and grief and anguish and anger that they have been enduring, mostly in silence, since they were impacted by the choices and actions of the offender who committed the crime. These victims/survivors wait painfully and quietly while the long process of adjudication winds its tortuous way, during which time they are specifically prohibited from expressing anything in the courtroom related to their loss and pain. Only if and when there is a conviction may they finally be allowed to express something of what they have been through, whether to the Judge or to the offender. Technically, the purpose of these Statements is to enable the Judge to have an opportunity to understand more clearly how the crime has affected the victims and survivors as s/he weighs factors relating to the appropriate sentence for the offender. Along with the non-public report from the Pre-Sentence Investigation, Victim Impact Statements can provide valuable and purposeful perspective – if the Judge chooses take them into account.
For victims/survivors, addressing the offender in Court about the impacts and effects of his or her actions is an excruciatingly difficult challenge. In some cases, years of agonizing and exhausting uncertainty may have passed. Will the offender be indicted? Will the trial take place? Will the offender be convicted? Will the sentence be appropriate? Will there be an appeal? Will I ever feel a sense of justice? Will I ever feel able to heal? And when that moment they’ve waited and hoped for finally comes – if there was a conviction – it is often a very nerve-wracking experience. Imagine trying to condense all the feelings one might have around the pain and grief and trauma of victimization or violation into a few short and public moments in the courtroom. Imagine trying to express all this pain in ways that are measured and dignified, and feeling afraid of losing the “control” everyone would want to have in such situations. Imagine trying to directly address the person who brought this devastation; and trying to “get it all out” while simultaneously trying to “hold it all together.” This is the power and the peril of writing and speaking a Victim Impact Statement which, for some survivors, is one of the most important addresses they may ever deliver in their lives.
Whether written or spoken or both, Victim Impact Statements are among the most powerful ways survivors have for giving voice; for speaking out, and they are one of the only ways for survivors to ensure that the offenders will hear what they have to say – whether the offenders appear to be listening or not. Victim Impact Statements can provide a mechanism for survivors to awaken in offenders a small measure of realization of the impacts of what they have done. In this manner, it is one of the first ways in which a survivor can unequivocally insist that the offender “account” for what he or she has done – even if only inwardly. Survivors who choose to address the offenders in so public and emotionally vulnerable a way deserve the gratitude and admiration of all who work toward true offender accountability, because in these Statements they leave the offender to (perhaps) reflect on those impacts.
Below, you’ll find links to more than seventy-five powerfully eloquent Victim Impact Statements gathered from the web. They include some of the least and the most known, including perhaps the most widely-read and important Victim Impact Statement of modern times, by Chanel Miller, who then wrote the highly acclaimed book, Know My Name, a triumphant survivor memoir that should be required reading for every citizen. Also included are just a few samples of the many fierce Statements read by survivors of “Sports Doctor” Larry Nassar in Michigan, a result of Judge Rosemarie Aquilina’s long and impassioned commitment to ensuring that all survivors may be heard, if they wish, before sentencing. All of these Victim Impact Statements provide us with an almost sacred glimpse into how different survivors in different crimes express their thoughts and feelings toward the offenders in Court. They are gifts to those of us who want to hear and understand something about the survivor experience. But these Statements are also very real and raw, and it should go without saying that they are emotionally affecting. Any of them could be triggering for some viewers, so please proceed with care for yourself and for those around you.
You’ll also find clips below illustrating challenges that survivors have had to surmount in their unfaltering determination to give voice to their experiences, and you can see that not every Judge welcomes Victim Impact Statements with sensitivity. But that is changing, as well. Note also the invaluable ‘Toolkit Tutorial’ link from the National Crime Victim Law Institute (NCVLI), an organization dedicated to affirming and advancing the legal rights of victims/survivors.
And finally, an invitation: If you’re aware of a particular Victim Impact Statement video or audio or text link that you feel we should consider including here, please don’t hesitate to let us know. The power of these Statements can reach far beyond the walls of the courtroom when they’re seen by others.
Be sure to refresh this page if you’ve visited here before, as the links to Statements may have been updated.
Survivors of Homicide Victims – Victim Impact Statements
- Jamie Friedland — Her husband was murdered in front of her during a carjacking in a mall parking lot.
- Melissa Kavars Hall — Her sister and her sister’s friend were killed by a stranger she had invited into her home.
- April Whitebush — Her son was shot five times in a premeditated murder outside a bar.
- Jayme Closs — Her parents were shot and killed in front of her, and she was abducted and held captive for 88 days. Read by Victim’s Advocate Chris Gramstrup.
- Cassidy Stay — Her entire family was murdered.
Drunk Driving/Unintended Murder
- Madeline Bradley — Her mother was one of five killed by a drunk driver.
- Kristian Guerrero — Her husband and unborn baby were killed by a drunk driver.
Violent Behaviors/Unintended Murder
- Anjelica Villanueva and Leonel Rivas — Their seven-year old daughter killed by stray bullet while eating ice cream in their car. Victim Impact Statement is read by their lawyer.
- Family of 7 year old Somer Thompson
- Families of Chelsea King and Amber Dubois — who were raped and murdered by the same man at different times.
Survivors of Serial Killer Victims – Victim Impact Statements
Survivors of Dennis Rader, the “BTK” Serial Sexual Sadist and Murderer, invited and supported by Judge Gregory Waller:
- Charlie Otero and Carmen Julia Otero Montoya — Their mother, father, sister, and brother were murdered.
- Kevin Bright — His sister was murdered, he was shot and has long-term nerve damage.
- Other survivors include:
- Steve Relford — His mother was murdered.
- Fred Fox — His younger sister was murdered.
- Beverly Platt — Her younger sister was murdered.
- Rod Hook — Representing the family of victim (and Rader neighbor) Marine Hedge.
- Bill Waverly — His wife was murdered.
- Stephanie Kline — Her mother was murdered, and she spoke for her brother, as well.
- Jeffrey Davis begins and is concluded in next part.
- Jeffrey Davis — His mother was murdered.
- Laurel Keeting — Her mother was murdered, and she reads the Statement of her sister-in-law.
Survivors of Anthony Sowell, the so-called “Cleveland Strangler,” a serial rapist and murderer, invited and supported by Judge Dick Ambrose. A mix of rebuke and forgiveness amid the heartbreak. Note how Sowell seems to keep his eyes closed as the Survivors address him in Court.
- Victim Impacts of the Survivors/Families of Crystal Dozier, Tishana Culver, Leshanda Long, Michelle Mason, Tonia Carmichael, Nancy Cobbs, Amelda Hunter, Telacia Fortson, Janice Webb, Kim Yvette Smith, Diane Turner.
Survivors of Jeffrey Dahmer, serial killer, invited and supported by Judge Laurence C. Gram Jr. A mix of relative emotional calm and of understandably unbridled rage amid the heartbreak.
- Victim Impact Statement clips — Shirley Hughes (Mother of Tony Hughes), Dorothy Straughter (Mother of Curtis Straughter), Inez Thomas (Mother of David Thomas), Donald Bradehoft (Brother of Joseph Bradehoft ), Rita Isabel (Sister of Errol Lindsey).
- Full Trial — expanded Victim Impact Statements start at 1 hour 24 minutes. The above survivors, sometimes in extended clips, and including J. W. Smith (Brother of Edward Warren Smith).
- Full Trial version 2 — expanded Victim Impact Statements start at 1 hour 40 min. All of the above, plus Stanley Miller (Uncle of Ernest Miller), Janie Hagen (Sister of Richard Guerrero), and Marilyn Sears (Mother of Anthony Lee Sears).
Survivors of Michael Gargiulo, who has been called the Hollywood Ripper, were invited by Judge Larry Paul Fidler to share the impacts upon them of these brutal murders.
- Cynthia Ellerin and Micheal Ellerin — Their daughter Ashley was murdered.
- Douglas Picaccio & Thomas Pacaccio — Their sister Tricia was murdered.
- Irving Bruno — His wife Maria was murdered.
Survivor of Attempted Murder by a Serial Killer
- Scott Davis — Attempted murder victim/survivor of Richard Beasley, the Ohio “Craigslist” predator/murderer, who succeeded in killing three other construction workers who had been lured by work for money ads.
Sexual Assault Victims/Survivors – Victim Impact Statements
- Alisa Alfaro — Acquaintance Rape by sexual predator neighbor and “friend” in her bed in the middle of the night.
- Chanel Miller — Campus Sexual Assault by a Stanford student – a stranger who abused and exploited her inability to consent to interactions or relations of any kind.
- Samantha Giacobozzi — Sexual Assault by a campus classmate she barely knew
- Lida Nguyen — Stranger Rape and Attempted Murder
- Jennifer Wheatley — Raped by a stranger in 1988, for 21 years her case remained unsolved. In 2010, the man who had raped her, a serial rapist, was identified and arrested.
- Amy McKnight — Stranger Rape and Attempted Murder in her apartment by a man she let in by opening the door. The victim impact statement is read by the victim/survivor after her court appearance which occurred 21 years after the rape, when the the rapist caught, tried found guilty, and sentenced based upon DNA evidence.
Childhood/Adolescent Sexual Abuse and Assault Victims/Survivors – Victim Impact Statements
Trusted-Adult Sexual Abuse
- USA Gymnastics Sexual Assault/Abuse by MSU’s infamous ‘Sports Doctor’ Nassar – a small sampling of the many eloquent and powerful Victim Impact Statements made by the survivors with the strong support and encouragement of Judge Rosemarie Aquilina.
- Kia Hiepler — Clergy/Youth Pastor Sexual Abuse victim/survivor reads the Victim Impact Statement she gave in court, emphasizing especially the treacherously cunning ways in which she was groomed to trust and rely on the offender.
- Unnamed Mother — Her daughter was abused by a religious leader/teacher, and she reads her Victim Impact Statement.
- Becca — Sexual, physical, and psychological abuse by “adoptive” father/family friend she went to live with in 8th grade.
- Unnamed Mother’s Statement — (Read by the Victim Advocate) Criminal Sexual Conduct involving a 38-year-old mother who lured a 14-year-old boy into sexual activity.
- Jeni Haynes — Severe incest sexual abuse/assault by father from age 4 to 11 reads the statement she gave in court.
- Sophia Vasquez — Incest sexual abuse/assault by father reads the Victim Impact Statement she gave in court.
- Kayla Garriott — Survivor of childhood sexual coercion, abuse, and assault by her father speaks strongly to other survivors who may be struggling with the wish to speak up and speak out. Please Note: the website link at the conclusion of the video is not currently active.
Relational/Intimate Partner/Domestic Violence Assault/Murder/Attempted Murder Victims/Survivors – Victim Impact Statements
- Ashley Wallace — Her father was poisoned to death by her mother, who also attempted to kill her by poisoning her.
- Stacey Hilton — Her daughter was murdered by her half-brother in a premeditated strangling.
- Shanna Nugent — Her wealthy grandmother was intentionally murdered by a con-man, who had become her grandmother’s business manager and travel companion, after her grandfather passed away.
- Family of Shanann Watts, 4-year-old Bella, and 3-year-old Celeste, as well as the in-utero baby boy Niko, who were all murdered by husband/father Christopher Watts.
- Mary Ann Groves — her daughter Teresa Sievers was murdered when her husband Mark orchestrated her death.
DV/IPV Attempted Murder/Threat of Murder
- Meghan Verikas — Unaccomplished murder-for-hire by ex-boyfriend and his new girlfriend.
- Jennifer Blum — (Audio) Victim/survivor/former wife of abuser, experienced death threats to her and their son.
- Sophia Putney-Wilcox — Victim/Survivor of Attempted Murder/Teen Intimate Partner Violence
- Angela — Strangled, assaulted, attempted rape and completed rape by former boyfriend, and former Massachusetts State Trooper Robert Sundberg.
DV/IPV Felony Assault
- Dana Parks — Intimate Partner Violence victim/survivor stopped by the Judge from completing her Victim Impact Statement.
Family Violence Victims/Survivors – Victim Impact Statements
Torture, False Imprisonment, and Child/Dependent-Adult Abuse
- Two of the Turpin Family Children — Parents kept their thirteen children captive in their homes for 15 years. Warning: The first two speakers are the children, and then the parents are permitted to speak.
Super Aggravated Sexual Assault of a Child/Murder
- Ben Thompson (and his mother) — His 4-year-old Daughter/her Granddaughter was murdered through physical abuse and sexual assault by the new boyfriend of her mother, and through the mother’s negligence. Offender was charged with, and convicted of, Super Aggravated Sexual Assault and Murder because Murder alone could have afforded an opportunity for later parole.
Endangering Welfare of a Child / Manslaughter
- Elizabeth Stafford — The mother of a son with permanent nerve damage by carbon monoxide poisoning resulting from his father’s negligence speaks at the father’s sentencing in the Manslaughter conviction. The event caused the death of the son’s half-sister, the father’s daughter by another woman.
Assault/Robbery Victims/Survivors – Victim Impact Statements
- Unnamed Woman — Brutally assaulted with her husband during a home-invasion robbery.
- Terry & Geraldine McCoy — Brutal home-invasion robbery, in which Terry was assaulted and their daughter was murdered.
- Shyle Serrels — Attacked in her parked car by 21-year-old Martae Rose in Grand Rapids, Michigan in August, 2014.
- Jason and La’Kysha – Race-biased Assault against Jason, a teen. The Victim Impacts were relayed to the Judge, and read on The Steve Wilkos Show.
Assault by Means Likely to Produce Great Bodily Injury
and Felony Mayhem
- David Stow and Bonnie Stow (with Judge’s comments) — Son and brother Bryan Stow was brutally attacked at Dodger stadium.
Aggravated Assault (struck by auto) while committing a Robbery
and Murder with a Firearm
- Stacey Lopez – Thrown from her parked car by an out of control cab after the driver was shot and killed in a robbery attempt. Stacy’s Victim Impact Statement starts at minute 28. Her mother follows her. Prior to this, beginning at minute 4, the family of the driver give their Victim Impact Statements.
Victim Impact Statements:
- Lisa Freeman – On victim impact statement restrictions.
- Jessica Josephson, whose sister Rebekah Bletsch was murdered, asks Michigan legislators to create a law to require convicted offenders to be present in the courtroom for Victim Impact Statements. This led to the writing and passing of the Law to that effect.
- Kristen Faith – Non-court associated Intimate Partner Violence Victim Impact Statement by a survivor/activist.
- Toolkit Tutorial: Victim Impact Statements from the National Crime Victim Law Institute.