By Xiomara Levsen, The JOURNAL
Washington County attorney John Gish was honored with the Change Maker Award last week from RVAP.
The award was presented to Gish during RVAP?s anniversary dinner in Iowa City last Thursday.
RVAP is the Rural Victim Advocacy Program in Iowa for people who have been sexually assaulted.
?I nominated Mr. Gish, because of how he always goes above and beyond for victims,? RVAP coordinator Deanna Hansen said. ?Going through the criminal justice proceedings is scary for a lot of people. John tries his best to make victims and their families feel as safe as possible.?
Hansen has worked with Gish as a coordinator since he became Washington County attorney.
?Working with John has been an amazing experience,? Hansen said. ?He has knowledge in many different areas and is always willing to lend an ear, answer hypotheticals and explain laws [and] court proceedings in terms that I can understand.?
Gish has also worked to get sex offenders jailed, she said.
?Sexual assault cases are extremely difficult to prosecute and in many counties you will see that they are rarely prosecuted,? Hansen said. ?John tries his best to get the victim justice, get sex offenders off of the street and keep the community safe.?
Gish said he was notified in advance about receiving the award.
?It was incredibly humbling,? Gish said. ?There were four other people that received the Change Maker Award and I had the opportunity to listen to them talk during the gala last week and they have remarkable accomplishments. They have devoted themselves to victim services for decades.?
Gish started his position as Washington County attorney 17 months ago.
?I think it was gratifying to know at least what we?re doing in the county attorney?s office is in the right direction,? he added.
At the end of the day the county attorney?s office represents the state and the people in Washington County, but getting a conviction isn?t the end to every case they have.
?We consider the circumstances of the victim,? Gish said. ?What helps them feel safe. What helps them become whole again if that?s possible, but our biggest thing I think is being open and honest with crime victims ? getting them to the services they need. Getting them connected with RVAP, the Domestic Violence Intervention Program ? these are great agencies that provide free and anonymous services for victims.?
Gish said he is extremely thankful for having great advocates in Washington County and a great partnership with local law enforcement.
?That?s where it starts ? the first responders,? Gish said. ?For Washington you have investigator Ron See and for the county we have investigator Chad Ellis with the sheriff?s office. Both do a really remarkable job. They show a lot of patience and compassion with crime victims ? that really helps set the stage for what we do in the county attorney?s office.?