Oregon House of Representatives Honors Bob Kouns
CRIME VICTIMS UNITED
On April 11, 2005, the Oregon House of Representatives unanimously passed House Concurrent Resolution 11 (HCR 11), a bill honoring Bob Kouns as the father of victims' rights in Oregon. Bob was a cofounder of Crime Victims United and died on April 29, 2004.
The bill was sponsored by State Representative Jerry Krummel. His legislative aide, Dawn Phillips, coordinate activities leading to the bill's passage.
The event was a surprise for Bob's wife Dee Dee who was also a
cofounder of Crime Victims United. Dee Dee Kouns was present as were all of her living children and
HCR 11 was passed on the annual commemoration of Victims' Appreciation Day.
During the passage of the bill in the House, a ceremony for crime victims was
underway in Hearing Room 50. After passage, Representative Krummel, the Kouns
family, Dee Dee and supporters joined the ceremony where Dee Dee gave an
eloquent extemporaneous speech recalling the many years of work that she and Bob put in
to advance victims' rights.
Meanwhile in the Galleria area of the Capitol there was a presentation area for victims' groups. Anne and Bruce Pratt set up a table for Crime Victims United and had lots of great pictures, news articles and other items. Parents of Murdered Children also had a touching display with hundreds of pictures of murder victims.
Representative Krummel's Remarks on the House Floor
Steve Doell's testimony at a hearing on HCR 11
This is April 11th the 25th Anniversary of National Crime Victims' Rights Week.
This month marks the 10 year anniversary of Measure 11, which Bob Kouns helped spearhead in 1994 to bring tougher penalties for violent crimes in Oregon.
This floor session started at 11 AM as did a special ceremony downstairs in HR 50 to honor those involved in Crime Victims issues.
Colleagues also a picture of the Kouns on your desk as well as a letter from me. These are pictures of me when I was about 7 or 8 years old. Yes there is a 1957 Buick in the background. But this isn't about me. That young girl you see is Valerie McDonald, Bob and Dee Dee's daughter.
Valerie and I used to walk to school together in Walla Walla Washington and that's where I met Bob and Dee Dee. And this isn't about me and to a certain degree this isn't about Valerie either. You see she is the reason Bob and Dee Dee founded Crime
Victims United. Today this is about Bob and the work he did because of Valerie.
As you can see she was a very playful kid and lived life to the fullest. She was very energetic until November of 1980 when she was living in San Francisco and trying to move out of her apartment and she disappeared.
After this happened, the Kouns' were faced with road block after road block. The one thing they came to realize was crime victims both living and dead were then victimized again by the system. And while the perpetrators of these awful crimes have many rights, as the accused should, the victims were without rights, and The Kouns' did what many people couldn't, I know I sure couldn't have done this, they turned sorrow, grief and anger into advocacy and determination. Bob was not about to let the bad guys win!
Investigators and the Kounses were convinced Valerie was murdered. Her body was found 20 years later near the Canadian border in Washington State [actually found in the early 1990's and identified as Valerie in 2001], and to this day no one has been tried for her murder, but prosecutors finally may have a suspect in the case.
You know, funny how life comes full circle. In the early 1960's I was walking Valerie his daughter to school and we played in the yard. It didn't matter which yard, either one worked. 40 years later he became a constituent, living in Charbonneau, walking with me to my office and lobbying me on crime victims' issues here in the legislature.
Bob was an Influential Crusader for Victims everywhere. He was a member of Parents of Murdered Children, he served on the Governor's Special Commission Against Violent Crime. He would visit the lifers' club at the State Penitentiary. He testified frequently before Legislative Committees and had contact with many officials within the criminal justice system.
Bob Kouns took the lead on changing Oregon law. He led more than a dozen campaigns to enhance the rights of
crime victims in Oregon and across the country. The measures he
supported ranged from Constitutional amendments for victims rights to statutory changes of tougher mandatory sentences for violent criminals.
Bob was respected by those who know him. He worked to make the needed to changes to help our public
safety officials do their jobs better. Among his friends were many county sheriffs, district attorneys and oh yes, even the
State of Oregon's own Attorney General, Hardy Meyers.
Bob had a great spirit was patient with people and had a great sense of humor. But he also worked tirelessly on behalf of crime victims to help them navigate the sometimes complicated waters of the criminal justice system.
Ladies and Gentlemen, there are 86 co-sponsors of this resolution. It came out of the
Judiciary Committee without a dissenting vote. Included in the co-sponsors are the Speaker of the House and Senate President.
Just a couple of points from the resolution:
Whereas in 1997 Bob Kouns retired as the head of Crime Victims United but remained active in campaigns and causes to help raise awareness of the needs of crime victims and volunteered to bring dignity and respect for victims, living and dead:
"Be it resolved by the Legislative Assembly of the State of Oregon:
(1) The Legislative Assembly recognizes Robert 'Bob' Kouns as the founding father of crime victim's right in Oregon.
(2) The Legislative Assembly expresses its deep condolences to the Kouns family, and joins them in celebrating Bob Kouns' extraordinary service to the people of Oregon.
And I hope you will join me today in letting the family know just how much we valued Bob and the contributions he has made
to our state.
We miss him and will for many years, but we should always be thankful that Bob Kouns was willing to give so much of himself to truly make the world a better place. I hope you will help in making it unanimous here on the House floor as well.
I would only say, thank you Bob for all you've done and thank you Dee Dee for sharing him with us.
Colleagues and after this is over join me in Hearing Room 50 or noon hour in Galleria.
And Dee Dee congratulations to you and again thank you for your contribution to this state and sacrifice you and your husband made to change the face of this state.
Bob Kouns was my mentor and like the older brother I never had, but most of all he was a very good friend. The same tragic circumstances brought us together, the murders of our only daughters, Bob's Valerie in 1980 and my Lisa in 1992.
Bob set the values for the crime victims' movement and was one of the founders of Crime Victims United. Bob died in April 2004 after a long battle with cancer.
Bob Kouns, along with his wife Dee Dee, joined the Portland chapter of Parents of Murdered Children in 1980, after their daughter Valerie McDonald was abducted in California and never heard from again. Her remains were identified in 2001.
Through their involvement in POMC, they became aware of the horrible state of criminal justice in Oregon at that time. Victims of violent crime routinely received no respect and often little justice from the criminal justice system, a system which failed miserably at holding criminals accountable and protecting decent citizens.
Bob and Dee Dee, along with other members of Parents of Murdered Children, created Crime Victims United in 1983 to work for crime victims' rights and a more balanced criminal justice system. For the next 14 years, Bob was a leader of the group, serving as president and in other capacities. Even after retiring in 1997, Bob was as an invaluable advisor to the group.
In 1984 Bob led the effort to get a victims' rights measure on the ballot. Measure 8 was narrowly defeated. In 1986 another measure, Measure 10, was advanced and passed, putting victims' rights in Oregon law. Both times CVU members personally gathered tens of thousands of signatures to bring the measures to the voters.
In 1996, Bob was the main author of Measure 26, which recast the founding principles of criminal justice in Oregon as protection of society, personal responsibility, accountability for one's actions and reformation. Measure 26, the culmination of 12 years of effort, passed handily and has had a profound impact.
Bob was involved in many other ballot measures, including the 1996 and 1999 measures that put victims' rights in the Oregon Constitution. The necessity of putting these rights in the constitution became clear after criminal defense attorneys used the courts to nullify the voters' will expressed in Measure 10.
Bob, working in close partnership with his wife Dee Dee, personally helped hundreds of victims of violent crime navigate the choppy waters of the criminal justice system. At a time when survivors were reeling from the most devastating loss, he brought expertise, wisdom and comfort.
Using his vast experience, sound moral compass and penetrating intellect, Bob made a huge contribution toward the mission of Crime Victims United - to create a more balanced criminal justice system, one in which the interests of victims and law-abiding citizens were accorded due weight. He advanced this mission through testimony before the Oregon Legislature, by working with virtually every criminal justice agency in state government, by participating in ballot measure campaigns and through appearances in the media. He was an eloquent spokesman and compelling advocate.
We believe that no one has made a greater contribution to the State of Oregon's crime victims and criminal justice system than Bob Kouns. His selfless and tireless work for the benefit of all law-abiding Oregonians was an inspiration. We loved him and will sorely miss him.
State Representative Jerry Krummel addresses the House while Dee Dee Kouns and Dawn Phillips look on.
Dee Dee Kouns and Representative Krummel during the ceremony in Hearing Room 50.
Mary Elledge (POMC Chapter Leader), Attorney General Hardy Myers and Dee Dee Kouns after the ceremony.
Crime Victims United President Steve Doell with Dee Dee Kouns in the Galleria where Victims' Appreciation Day was in progress.
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