October 26, 2011 / Uncategorized

PRESS RELEASE: See Something, Say Something – Victim Blaming in NY Friedlander Murder Imperils Public Safety

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The following press release has been sent to select media outlets.

October 26, 2011

The New Agenda, a national organization dedicated to achieving safety and opportunity for all women, launched an online petition to have a New Jersey county prosecutor who made victim-blaming statements about the NY Friedlander family murders terminated or re-assigned for his statements.  On Oct. 18 Amy Friedlander and her two children were brutally murdered by husband and father Sam Friedlander.

The petition addressed to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Attorney General Paula Dow, and Passaic County prosecutor Camelia M. Valdes, notes that Senior Assistant Passaic County Prosecutor David Pine called the murders the “result of continued emotional torment in that household.” He is also quoted in news coverage that he “knew something would happen in that household.”

“These statements reflect a reckless disregard for the laws Mr. Pine is charged with administering. Clearly the public he serves cannot be confident in his abilities to serve in a role of prosecuting attorney,” said The New Agenda President Amy Siskind, who is also a family friend of Amy Friedlander and her two children.  “We are calling on Governor Christie and Attorney General Dow to reassign or terminate Pine to send a clear message about offender accountability.”

Siskind is also asking Passaic County prosecutor Camelia Valdes for a meeting to discuss the issue. The N.J. Code of Ethics for County Prosecutors recognizes the inherent impropriety in comments like of this type being made by prosecutors. The Code specifically provides,”No county prosecutor or employee of a county prosecutor shall voluntarily testify as a character or reputation witness on behalf of any person accused of a criminal offense…”  The ethics code “recognizes the importance of public confidence in the administration of criminal justice and provides for the general supervision of the county prosecutors by the Attorney General as chief law enforcement officer of the State.  This Code has been endorsed by each county prosecutor on behalf of his or her office.”

To sign the petition, go here.

Siskind noted that the fact that a prosecuting attorney would make those statements just shows how prevalent victim blaming is.  “New York has one of the strongest laws for court ordered treatment in the nation and New Jerseys has recently been improved, but we can’t take advantage of it with a continued focus on victim blaming,” said Siskind. “Until we address domestic violence and mental health issues as public health and safety issues and not private, family affairs – I fear we will only have more senseless tragedies like my friend Amy’s. To honor her memory and dedication to her children, The New Agenda will not let this go until those who blame victims are held accountable.”

To help raise awareness about domestic violence and harmful stereotypes about women involved in them, The New Agenda is promoting a valuable resource from New York Governor Cuomo’s office, here.

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