CEDAR RAPIDS — Anastasia Basquin, who works with crime victims, says her job “takes a toll” at times, but she wouldn’t do anything else because helping someone feel less lost in the court system or just being the person who listens and believes them is her reward.
Basquin, victim/witness coordinator with the Linn County Attorney’s Office, received the statewide Award of Excellence in Victim Services, an annual award given by the U.S. Attorney’s offices of the Northern and Southern districts. She was presented with the award earlier this month during the opening ceremony of Crime Victims’ Rights Week.
Linn County Attorney Jerry Vander Sanden, in his nomination letter, said Basquin always treats crime victims with respect and dignity.
“She demonstrates great empathy while providing them with advice and emotional support through the process of the justice system,” Vander Sanden said.
Vander Sanden also attached an email to his letter from a sexual assault victim about Basquin, describing her appreciation for Basquin through the court process.
The woman said “You made me feel like I had the right to be angry and it was OK to be scared. You made me remember that this was not my fault and gave me the platform to stand as strong as I have through it all. I hope you know how truly important you are to me and all of us women that walk through your door. It takes a special person … and you are truly special!”
First Assistant Linn County Attorney Nick Maybanks said last week he has seen her steadfast dedication and commitment to victims like this woman and so many others. He said it “isn’t just her job — it’s her calling.”
“She assists people through what may likely be the most difficult and trying times of their life,” said Maybanks, who always has Basquin work with the victims and witnesses on the cases he prosecutes. “I’m proud to work beside her.”
Basquin, who has worked in the office for 12 years, said she was “shocked and honored to be recognized” to receive this award. Being modest, she said she doesn’t do anything special. She builds a rapport with the victims and witnesses and always tries to think “what does this person need from me” to get them through the court process.
Basquin, as part of her job, explains every step of the criminal justice system, informs victims of their rights and makes referrals for services such as with domestic violence agencies. Her education, a master’s degree in clinical psychology and an undergraduate degree in psychology and criminology, aids her in understanding trauma and “reading” people.
Basquin works on about 900 cases a year, which is an average. She also helps prep witnesses for depositions and testimony in court, assists with writing a victim’s impact statement that is read during sentencings and provides training and guidance to law enforcement officers regarding domestic abuse.
She helped implement a new “Lethality Assessment Protocol” for police officers to follow in determining how lethal a domestic situation might become, a tool used to reduce domestic homicides. Linn County was the first to start using this national assessment tool.
Many of the cases — short term and others — such as domestic assaults, last four years, but many times she will stay in touch after the court case is over. Basquin doesn’t think of them as victims — “they are survivors. The justice system isn’t always fair to them. In their eyes, the punishment doesn’t fit the crime.”
Basquin said the tough part is making that phone call when a not-guilty verdict comes back or the outcome is less than what they expect.
“I have to deliver the bad news. The hardest is when it’s a sexual abuse, whether it’s an adult or child. That’s why I have to leave my job at the office and go home and enjoy my family.”
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Basquin said she’s fortunate to have good support from others in the office who she can lean on and decompress if needed.
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