BOSTON – During Victim Rights Month in April, the Massachusetts Office for Victim Assistance (MOVA) hosted an awards ceremony at the Massachusetts State House to recognize individuals and agencies that made outstanding contributions to victim rights and services in the state. Former Attorney General Martha Coakley received the Gerard D. Downing Leadership Award for her unwavering commitment to support crime victims as AG and former Middlesex District Attorney.
As AG, Coakley expanded financial supports and made them more accessible to victims of crime under the state’s Victim Compensation statute and expanded the role of Victim Advocates in her office. She provided leadership as Chair of MOVA’s governing Board, led the first state Human Trafficking Interagency Task Force, and ushered significant changes to the state’s domestic violence laws and protections before leaving office last year. As Middlesex DA and former head of the Child Abuse Unit, Coakley was best known for her efforts to protect child abuse victims while aggressively prosecuting their offenders and pushing for tougher penalties to prevent further abuse.
The award is named after the late Gerard D. Downing, former Berkshire County District Attorney and lifelong Pittsfield resident. Downing was a champion of victim rights throughout his career and was a long-time member of MOVA’s governing Board.
“I can think of no one more deserving of recognition for their advocacy for victims’ rights then my friend, and my late father's friend, Martha Coakley. My father saw his job as two parts - one seeking truth and justice - and the other, equally important, providing aid and comfort to victims. Martha Coakley, as ADA, DA and AG, fought to ensure victims’ rights were first and foremost in our system. In so doing, she has helped thousands carry on with their lives and proven herself a more than worthy awardee." Senator Benjamin B. Downing (D- Pittsfield).
“I know firsthand Martha Coakley’s unending commitment to victims throughout her career in law enforcement. Martha’s steadfast leadership as chair of the Massachusetts Office of Victim Assistance and on the state’s first ever Human Trafficking Interagency Task Force has left a lasting impression on our state. Martha’s passion and determination to help children who were sexually abused continues to be inspirational. Truly, the Gerard D. Downing Leadership Award could not go to a better or more deserving person.” Attorney General Maura Healey
“Martha Coakley is truly a champion of victim rights in Massachusetts and is very deserving of this distinguished award”, said MOVA Executive Director Liam Lowney. “Having worked with her as Attorney General, Middlesex DA, and Chairwoman of our Board, I have seen her compassion and understanding of the many complex issues crime victimization has on individuals and families firsthand. We are thrilled to recognize her many years of dedicated public service that have helped advance the victim rights movement in Massachusetts in countless ways.”
For further information on the Victim Rights Award Ceremony or this year’s award recipients, please visit MOVA’s website www.mass.gov/mova or call 617-586-1340.