The C. Lydia Martinez Awards Ceremony

Monday, 7 March 2011
New York, NY

Lydia Martinez Award WinnersOn March 7, 2011, colleagues, friends and dignitaries filled a large banquet hall to celebrate the life of the late, First Grade Special Victims Detective C. Lydia Martinez and to honor five recipients of the Lydia Martinez Multi-Disciplinary Collaboration Awards: Volunteer advocate Maegan Corcoran, Sexual Assault Forensic Examiner and Coordinator Glenda Guzman, Wyckoff Heights Medical Center Violence Intervention and Treatment Program Coordinator Deesha Narichania, NYPD Special Victims Detective Richard Ortiz and Queens Assistant District Attorney Eric Rosenbaum.

Everyone knew Lydia for her strength, compassion, her indelible effect on the lives of survivors and the impact she had on the city’s collective response to sexual assault by law enforcement, prosecutors, advocates and medical personnel.

In her opening remarks Harriet Lessel, Executive Director of the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault (NYCAASA) said, “Sexual violence can be prevented, but it will take a community to do it.” The spirit of collaboration and togetherness was felt throughout the room. There was real awareness and knowledge that to respond to sexual violence in the best way, we must go beyond what we know. We must be creative and thoughtful, and we must work in partnership with our response community and the survivors we strive to help.

New York City Police Commissioner Raymond Kelly spoke about 25 advocacy groups meeting regularly and their recommendations for improving law enforcement’s response to sexual assault victims. As a result of these collaborative efforts, Commissioner Kelly ensured that a detective in the Special Victims Unit will investigate every sex crime and every officer dispatched to a hospital to respond to a sexual assault victim will be a member of the SVU. The NYPD is also increasing staff in the Special Victims Unit by 50%.

Sarah Tofte, Joyful Heart’s Director of Advocacy & Policy, commended the NYPD and highlighted the honorees for their service. Sarah also spoke about Joyful Heart’s commitment to ending the backlog of untested rape kits. Sarah said to Commissioner Kelly, “Your successful efforts send a message that rape kit testing matters, that a victim’s case is important, that what she went through to report the crime and go through the exam was not in vain and that the perpetrator will not get away with their crime.”

Mariska Hargitay, Founder and President of the Joyful Hear Foundation could not attend the event, but sent her love and gratitude to the award recipients and the attendees. She said, “Through your work, you strengthen the possibility of healing for survivors because you hear them, respond to them and commit yourselves to doing something about the violence and injustice that they have experienced.”

The awards were sponsored by the Joyful Heart Foundation and hosted by the New York City Alliance Against Sexual Assault (NYCAASA).

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