Bonnie Campbell Keynotes
Fourth Annual Violence Against Women Forum
In March 1975, a jury in Chenango County, N.Y., presented with overwhelming evidence and a confession, found Stephen Pierce, 20, guilty of murdering sixteen-year-old Wendy Cooper during a rape attempt. His half-sister Bonnie Campbell traveled from her new home in Iowa for the trial and testified as a character witness in Pierce's behalf. Pierce was sentenced to 25 years-to-life.
Twenty years later, Stephen Pierce, up for parole in 1999, is serving his time in upstate New York. Bonnie Campbell, by contrast, has gone on to a remarkable life. In March of 1995 President Clinton named her the first director of the Justice Department's Violence Against Women office. This April she was named one of Time magazine's 25 Most Influential Americans.
Bonnie Campbell is the force behind a grassroots shift in the way Americans view the victims-and perhaps more important, the perpetrators-of crimes against women. It is Campbell who applies gentle pressure on Clinton to keep telling the world how his stepfather hit his mother, and Campbell who, by traveling around the country and speaking to small town sheriffs and big city DAs is making sure the words "domestic violence" remain part of the national conversation.
"In a sense," says Campbell, "I suppose you could call it making amends. While I had nothing to do with Stephen's crime, it left a permanent scar on me." The trial proved to be a career catalyst. "It piqued my interest in the law," she says, "and it very much planted the seed about victims' rights."
In Washington, Campbell works with the feds to put teeth into new laws in the Violence Against Women Act. As part of the 1994 Crime Act, she has some $1.6 billion to divvy up among the states over six years. It is money that puts beds in shelters and speciallytrained community police officers on the streets.
Campbell, 49, brings to her job the rock-solid credibility of having been both a prosecutor and, during her successful 1990 campaign for Iowa attorney general, the victim of a stalker, which led her to write one of the nation's first stalking laws.
On September 20, 1997, Ms. Campbell will address the league's forum. More information and a reservation form can be found on pages 14 and 15 of this newsletter.