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40 Years of Victims Rights

In 2013, Layne Davis’ husband culminated 12 years of isolation, mental and physical abuse, by trying to kill her.

On the first anniversary of the finalization of her divorce, Davis described that last attack to an audience that included San Luis Obispo County District Attorney Dan Dow, Sheriff Ian Parkinson and staff that have been involved with the local Victim and Witness Assistance Center over the last 40 years.

Davis’ husband savagely beat her and slashed her with a samurai sword that, despite a marathon surgery to save her hand at French Hospital, left her with permanent injuries.   He eventually threatened her with a loaded handgun before she was able to escape.

Davis, who went by her first name April 12 at the rally near the steps of the San Luis Obispo Superior Court Annex, described better than anyone else could the resilience the crowd was there to celebrate.

Her story, symbolized only partly by one of the 900 flags laid out on the Courthouse lawn for Crime Victim’s Rights Month, with each one of those representing 100 victims working with the Center yearly.

“Abusers are expert at isolating their victims,” she said. “I never knew how many wonderful caring people were waiting to help me into the wonderful and full life I lead now.”

Her experience post-abuse may have started with the doctors and nurses who were with her through convalescence, or the San Luis Obispo Sheriff Deputy who first took her report, or the detectives who followed her case every step of the way, but she credited the Center for helping transform victimhood into victory.

That, said the Center’s former director, Cindy Marie Absey, would not have been possible without the advocates working at the center, who much more than a job, accept a 24 hour a day calling. Nor said Absey without the leadership of the last three SLO District Attorneys.

In recognition of that legacy, and the Center’s 40th anniversary, District Attorney Dan Dow finished the rally with an unveiling officially renaming the center in honor of former DA, later Judge, Christopher Money.

Money worked to make the SLO Victim and Witness Assistance Center the first in California in 1977.

It would take another six years for the rest of the State to follow suit and for resources to be made available in each jurisdiction.

Money went on to serve as the District Attorney from 1979 to 1985 and as a Superior Court Judge from 1985 until his retirement in 2005.

The renaming ceremony took place nearly three year’s since his death on April 30, 2014, but his family was in attendance for the unveiling.


Story and Photos by Camas Frank

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