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‘In the arena’

Times-Mirror Staff Photo/Beverly Denny Bob Thompson of the Leesburg Police Department receives an award from Senior Assistant Commonwealth’s Attorney Gigi Lawless at the Loudoun County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office and Victim Witness Program Annual Open House and Victims’ Services Award Ceremony April 26. Standing beside him in support is Leesburg Chief of Police Joe Price.
Loudoun Assistant Commonwealth Attorney Gigi Lawless keeps a quote from President Theodore Roosevelt's "Citizens in a Republic" speech in her office.

"The credit belongs to the man who is actually in the arena … who knows great enthusiasms, the great devotions; who spends himself in a worthy cause; who at the best knows in the end the triumph of high achievement, and who at the worst, if he fails, at least fails while daring greatly, so that his place shall never be with those cold and timid souls who neither know victory nor defeat."

On April 26, many in Loudoun's law enforcement and prosecution community, including state Attorney General Ken Cuccinelli and S.T.A.C.I.E. Foundation founder Lorraine Reed Whoberry, gathered at the county courthouse to recognize those "in the arena" fighting for victim's rights.

In honor of National Crime Prevention Week, seven individuals were given awards for their work in bringing criminals to justice.

In his speech, Cuccinelli highlighted the importance for victim's advocates, especially in human trafficking, where there's been an uptick of arrests since he took office.

"… In those cases, like sexual abuse cases, the victim right advocate plays an absolutely critical role in not just making the case because if those people aren't comfortable enough to testify, that they believe there's another path they can get on, that they aren't just going to end up in the same place, you're not going to make that case," Cuccinelli said.

Training for law enforcement in Virginia now includes victim witness advocates when dealing with human trafficking, the attorney general said.

"This is a good week to remember that. It's a unique area and somewhat new, but it's the fastest growing crime in the world and it's right here in Virginia. It's in Northern Virginia. We're not immune to it and we're being very aggressive in the AG's office to try and fight it. It's literally the best example I can name for you of the … high-profile significance of our victim's rights advocates," he said.

It was those advocates, working in the capacity of law enforcement and Good Samaritans that were honored April 26.

Under a magnifying glass

In June 2011 the Falls Church Police Department founds itself in the middle of an uncomfortable situation. Michael Gardner, the husband of former Falls Church mayor Robin Gardner, was accused of molesting two girls at his daughter's slumber party.

"It was a triable case, but it was a tough case," said Loudoun County Commonwealth Attorney Jim Plowman.

In recognition for her efforts in working to bring Michael Gardner to justice, Falls Church Lt. Sonya Richardson was given an award.

Richardson, Plowman said, went the extra mile "after turning over every rock." The lieutenant, he said, sat down with one of the girls, laid out her clothing and asked her to tell her exactly where she was touched.
Richardson was able to extract touch DNA from the clothing.

"Despite many people telling her to 'don't waste your time, you're never going to get, she got it," Plowman said.

Michael Gardner is now serving 22 years in prison.

A true community hero

In June 2012 student Adeeb Atariwa was on his way to school when he encountered another teen attacking two sisters, ages 12 and 14, with the intent of raping them.

Adeeb chased the perpetrator off and walked the girls to school.

"Adeeb is one of those people out there who really are the unsung heroes of our community because they act out when there's no duty, there's no responsibility, there's nothing but his own heart telling him to do the right thing," Lawless said.

After his arrest, the boy, a 16-year-old Sterling resident, told police he had visions of raping little girls and pushing children in front of cars.

For his ability to "get involved" the teen was honored with the Good Samaritan award.

'We needed an in'

Brad Stiles, a soon-to-be retired CIA agent, has worked with the Loudoun Commonwealth Attorney's Office for years to help with issues of confidentiality. The cases, Plowman said, ranged from simple assault of juveniles to horrific child pornography cases.

"We needed an in. We needed help with some of our cases. Three that I can think of off of the top of my head where we were just not able to get information correctly … through a series of phone calls … we found Brad," Plowman said.

Stiles was recognized for his work in helping to bring a number of difficult cases to justice.

A keen eye

U.S. Secret Service Agent Jerome Pickett is the recipient of the Medal of Valor and has been awarded the Law Enforcement Employee of the Year from the federal government. On April 26, he added another accolade to his resume.

Lawless credited Pickett with working with Loudoun prosecutors on a number of child molestation cases involving cellphones and video cameras. However, one in particular baffled authorities.

A man had molested a girl and took video of it with his cellphone and then emailed it to himself. Prosecutors could never get a clear picture of the perpetrator except for the girl's hairbands he wore on his fingers. The agent was able to find photos of the man online, wearing the same hairbands on his fingers and properly identify him.

Donald Richard Hausen, 35, of Sterling, was ultimately sentenced to 111 years in prison for his crimes.

'A split second'

Virginia State Police Officer Mike Brown, a nine-year veteran of the agency, worked tirelessly in his efforts for the last two years to fight child pornography, Lawless said.

But it was Brown's ability to capture a split second moment on an old Super 8 video cassette seized during a search warrant that showed the man's face while he sexually assaulted a young girl.

"There was a split second moment where the man's face crosses part of the camera," Lawless said. "And Mike was able to seize that one moment in time to identify him."

Moses Ulysses Harris was ultimately found guilty of 10 felony offenses and given two life sentences plus 75 years for his crimes.

He refused to give up

Leesburg Police Detective Bob Thompson, who has now received the Victim Services' Award twice, didn't give up when he began working on a child abuse case where a 2-year-old had been severely burned by her father with an aresol can used to clean dust from keyboards. Thompson was able to get a confession from the father about the crimes, but he didn't stop there.

"When Bob works a case, he works it and he works it and he works it into the ground until there's nothing left," Lawless said.

During the investigation, the detective also discovered a wound on the child's head. Thompson again interviewed the perpetrator and got a second confession, admitting to stabbing his child in the head with a knife.

"As a result of Bob not letting that little detail go … this guy was convicted of two crimes as opposed to one," Lawless said.

A 'one woman unit'

Loudoun County Sheriff's Office detective Dana Cresswell, who works with the agency's Sex Crimes Division, was honored for her tenacity in catching online sex predators.

"Dana consistently goes above and beyond the call of duty on every single case," Lawless said.

The assistant prosecutor described Cresswell as the sheriff's office "one woman "To Catch a Predator" unit."

The detective goes online and portrays a young girl to catch perpetrators trying to lure children in for sex.

Cresswell even goes so far as to provide a picture of herself dressed in a cheerleading uniform to any suspect who requests one.

"Most of Dana's cases result in guilty pleas because there's no wiggle room. She's got them …" Lawless said.


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