Editors’s note: A months-long I-Team investigation of Ohio’s Crime Victim Compensation Program found the amount of assistance paid through the program has been steadily declining for a decade. Last year the program denied more people than it approved, and now spends almost as much on staff salaries and overhead as it gives in aid. Victims and victims’ advocates say some of the rules are too stringent for a program funded by criminals to help repair damages done by crimes. Read the full story here.
Paula Humphrey, a 70-year-old Dayton woman who was assaulted last year by a juvenile who broke into her home, criticized the Ohio Victims Compensation Program as confusing and bureaucratic, especially for someone still putting their life together after a crime.
“I didn’t expect it to be so difficult, she said, though she eventually did get some compensation.
“It wasn’t the dollar amount, it was just the compassion that yes I was injured, not just physically, but emotionally, economically, physically, spiritually — it was a real blow to me,” she said. “I thought the victims compensation program was a way to affirm to people (that) this was an injustice.”
In her appeal, Humphrey described the brutal attack, which left her with a concussion and broken ribs.
“The juvenile who attacked me choked me, and put his shirt over my head, and tried to choke me to unconscious,” she wrote. “I fought with all my might, which provoked him even more, and he hit me in my face and head at least eight times. Five times during the attack, he verbalized intentions to kill me. At my age, it was amazing that I lived through this attack, and I feel that had I not been the strong person I am, I would not have survived.”
Her assailant, who was 16 at the time, was convicted of aggravated burglary and felonious assault and was sentenced to seven years in prison.
Humphrey hired Dayton attorney Beth Kolotkin and she ultimately received $408, which reimbursed her for her mileage to and from the hospital and covered her medical deductibles. She was not compensated for the glasses she had to buy to replace the ones broken during the attack.
Victims are reimbursed for out-of-pocket costs, including hospital charges and — for families of murdered victims — funeral and burial expenses. The program does not pay for pain and suffering or lost property.
FULL REPORT: Claims spike, but fewer victims get compensation
Last year, the average reimbursement was $2,369. Payouts totaled $337,698 in Montgomery County, $82,101 in Butler County, $63,935 in Miami County, $53,149 in Greene County and $38,804 in Clark County.
Matthew Kanai, chief of the AG’s crime victims service division said AG’s office is not looking for reasons to deny claims.
“We try to encourage everybody who has been a victim to apply and allow us to work out the eligibility later,” he said.