Ann Bauers is the Founder and Executive Director of the National Justice and Hope for Crime Victims with headquarters in Grayson, Kentucky. Ann’s journey sadly and tragically began when her son Brian Keith Waugh was murdered in his home on July 11, 2003. At that time there was no support group for his family who were devastated by his death. Ann was a driving force behind the first support and advocacy group in the Grayson, Kentucky area. As of January 2019, the organization has become a national non-profit organization and opened an additional chapter in Louisville, Kentucky. Today, National Justice and Hope for Crime Victims serves hundreds of crime victims each year giving them emotional support and linkage to local resources.
Can you describe what it was like for you as a crime victim in the Kentucky court system?
When our family was faced with the tragic murder of my son, we didn’t know who our county prosecutor was, honestly we didn’t even know who to call to ask. We were so blessed to have unlimited support from our investigative team. The detectives and troopers from the Kentucky State Police went above and beyond to make sure we had all the resources and support we needed through each step of the process. As we got to know the Commonwealth Attorney and the entire prosecution team they too became a part of our family. They had patience with us and every question or concern we had. We were lucky. As we’ve worked to help others going through the Kentucky Court System we’ve learned that not everyone received the support and respect that we did. That reality is what drives our mission at Justice and Hope for Crime Victims. We want every victim and survivor to receive the same support that we did.
Which component of Marsy’s Law stands out most to you and why?
What excites me most about Marsy’s Law is the constitutional security it gives victims and survivors of crime. The promise and hope that they will not be closed out of the justice system and left in the dark. Their voice has a solid rock to stand on now with Marsy’s Law.
As you've worked to spread awareness about Marsy's Law in Kentucky, what has been the response from those you work with and in your community?
I’ve received such a great response of support and positivity from my community. Most were surprised to learn that Kentucky didn’t already have laws in place to protect victims and agreed it was long overdue. Many chose to rally and show support for Kentucky crime victims and worked beside me to bring awareness of the need we have here in Kentucky to protect victims and their rights.
This year, National Crime Victims Rights Week is April 19th-24th. Do you have a message for crime victims and supporters of Marsy’s Law regarding this important week?
The implementation of Marsy’s Law is a great start to getting victims and survivors heard, but there’s still lots of work to do. That’s why I love that we have a National Crime Victims’ Right Week so much. It’s an opportunity for us to work statewide with community partners to shine a spotlight on victims' rights. Awareness projects are happening in many communities and it’s so thrilling to know victims and survivors may be hearing about their rights for the first time and we want them to know we are here to answer all their questions. National Justice and Hope for Crime Victims is excited to be hosting our own awareness event featuring the Kentucky Attorney General Daniel Cameron along with Marsy’s Law for Kentucky’s Director of Outreach Emily Bonistall Postel and testimony by victim-survivor Melody York on April 23, 2021. We want our community to know we are here for them and their families and we will walk this journey by their side.
Do you have any words of encouragement for crime victims?
It’s simple, you do not have to travel this journey alone. When you feel most overwhelmed and don’t know where to turn take a deep breath and reach out to your victim advocates - use your local resources. No one will embrace you like those who are driven by a passion to help. I can’t say it enough, “You don’t have to go through this alone.”