Those who serve crime victims in Kansas receive thanks, honors

WICHITA –Officials from the Kansas Attorney General’s Office reccently honored four award winners for service to crime victims during a ceremony and luncheon in Wichita.“

The work the award winners do to help crime victims navigate really challenging circumstances is extraordinary and invaluable,” Attorney General Kris Kobach said. “Providing justice to crime victims is more than prosecuting the offenders. Justice includes serving victims in their time of need, supporting them through the process, and helping ensure their voices are heard.”

Presented annually for nearly three decades, the Kansas Attorney General’s Crime Service Awards recognize individuals who have made significant contributions to improve the lives of those who have experienced crime. Peers, victim families and other community partners across Kansas offer nominations each year.

Outstanding Community Champion Award – Protecting KS Children from Sexual Predators Group
The Community Champion Award recognizes an individual or group that has made a significant difference for victims of crime. Kim Bergman, Tess Ramirez, Lesa Patterson-Kinsey, and Joe Cherey lead the group, Protecting KS Children from Sexual Predators. In 2023, they successfully advocated to remove the criminal statute of limitations for child sexual abuse and increase the amount of time that survivors have to file a civil lawsuit from age 21 to age 31. As part of their advocacy, Kim, Tess, Lesa, Joe and other survivors set up an information table multiple days a week throughout the legislative session to educate lawmakers and the public about child abuse. Every day they sat at the table, other survivors would visit and share that they or someone know had also been abused. The disclosures motivated the group to continue on in its efforts to educate the public about the prevalence of child sexual abuse in our communities.

Kansas Bureau of Investigation Director Tony Mattivi poses with members of Protecting Children from Sexual Predators Group. The organization won the Outstanding Community Champion Award for its effort to change a law extending the statute of limitations for the victims of child sexual abuse. (KSAG office photo)

Legislators unanimously passed their proposal, and it was signed into law.

“These remarkable individuals have not only bravely shared their personal experiences of exploitation but have also been relentless in their pursuit of systemic change. Their tireless advocacy efforts have led to significant legislative reforms aimed at supporting survivors of childhood sexual abuse in our state,” said Kasey Dalke, executive director of the Children’s Advocacy Centers of Kansas.

Outstanding Criminal Justice Victim Service Award – Sgt. Dan Oblinger
This award recognizes an individual who made a positive contribution regarding the needs of victims or offender accountability within the criminal justice response. Sgt. Dan Oblinger, recently retired from the Wichita Police Department, worked as an investigator and supervisor in the Undercover Vice Unit. Oblinger’s investigative team used proactive measures to reduce demand, arresting buyers and supporting the prosecution of traffickers. Oblinger also shared his work with advocates so women could leave commercial sex and thrive. He currently works for a nonprofit that consults nationally on counter-human trafficking investigations and operations, as well as high-risk advocacy.

Jennifer White, the founder of ICT SOS, nominated Oblinger.

“Dan has a servant-leader heart, and it shows in the way he leads his team and how he collaborates with victim service partners. He has partnered with ICT SOS to ensure victims are connected to advocacy services and resources immediately whenever possible. He goes the extra mile to make sure things like Fresh Start bags are available in moments of crisis for a survivor,” White said.

Outstanding Community-Based Victim Advocate Award – Megan Rogers
This award recognizes a community-based victim advocate for outstanding work in improving the lives of victims of crime. As a survivor of domestic violence, sexual assault, and stalking, Rogers was motivated to support other victims. She currently serves as an advocate with Safehouse Crisis Center, where she played a pivotal role in establishing community partnerships and fostering relationships to expand services and resources for victims. A leader amongst staff, she has successfully navigated through staff shortages and increased workloads while ensuring that crime victims continue to have their needs met.

“In the last several years, she has helped victims find their voice again when it seemed impossible. In a time when victims felt hopeless, devastated, and alone, she stood by them every single step of the way.  Megan goes beyond just providing immediate crisis intervention and safety planning. She is dedicated to providing follow-up and long-term support to the survivors we serve,” said her nominator, Brooke Powell.

Outstanding System-Based Victim Advocate Award – Kayla Stone
This award recognizes a system-based victim advocate for outstanding work in improving the lives of victims of crime. Stone is the Law Enforcement Victims Assistance Coordinator with the Kansas Bureau of Investigation. In her role, she provides direct services to victims of crime in cases where the KBI is requested to assist with a major crime investigation. Serving primarily in 46 western Kansas counties, she connects crime victims with services and resources that ensure they feel supported throughout the investigation and beyond, while aiming to prevent further trauma and strengthening the overall criminal case. She also works with the Kansas Sexual Assault Response Advisory Committee as a subject matter expert, serves as a board member for the Kansas Organization for Victim Assistance (KOVA), and is a member of the KBI’s Peer Support Team, which specializes in providing peer-based assistance to KBI employees and their families, as well as external law enforcement and first responder partners.

Abigail Hammeke, who nominated Stone said, “Kayla has set the bar high in what it means to be a victim advocate. She’s been instrumental in changing the atmosphere at KBI of how victims of crime are being aided. She’s the kind, familiar point of contact for victims, and guides them to the services they need so they can begin healing from the tragic events that happened to them or their loved one.”

Dane Hicks is a graduate of the University of Missouri School of Journalism and the United States Marine Corps Officer Candidate School at Quantico, VA. He is the author of novels "The Skinning Tree" and "A Whisper For Help." As publisher of the Anderson County Review in Garnett, KS., he is a recipient of the Kansas Press Association's Boyd Community Service Award as well as more than 60 awards for excellence in news, editorial and photography.

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