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The New Jersey Statehouse in Trenton. (Photo: Kevin Sanders for New Jersey Globe)

Longtime crime victim advocate named to state post

By David Wildstein, January 25 2021 11:17 am

A veteran advocate of crime victims has been named director of the state Victims of Crime Compensation office.

Mary Ellen Bonsper joined the office as an investigator in 1986 and spent a decade as chief of investigators before becoming acting director last year.

“Victims of crime deserve justice, respect, and resources that enable them to return to their daily lives,” Gov. Phil Murphy said. “There is no one more qualified than Mary Ellen to assist some of the most vulnerable among us. I know that these people, who are often unheard, will have a critical ally in Mary Ellen in her new role as Director of the Victims of Crime Compensation Office.”

The Victims of Crime Compensation office was created under a 1971 state law that compensations victims of violent crimes for expenses related to the crime.   The bill was originally sponsored by Senate Majority Leader Alfred Beadleston (R-Red Bank) and Assembly Majority Leader Thomas Kean (R-Livingston).

Attorney General Gurbir Grewal praised Bonsper for a career spent helping New Jerseyans “whose lives have been torn apart by crime.”

“She knows victims need more than financial compensation to heal— they need to be treated with fairness, compassion and respect,” Grewal said.  “Mary Ellen has a victim-centered vision for the Victims of Crime Compensation Office and is using her decades of experience to make top-to-bottom improvements in the agency.”

A prominent victims rights activist also heaped praise on the Bonsper appointment.

“Through her knowledge, experience, and excellent management skills, Mary Ellen has been pivotal in transforming this agency into an effective victim-centered office that respects every crime victim’s constitutional right to be treated with fairness, compassion, and respect,” said Richard D. Pompelio, the New Jersey Crime Victims’ Law Center founder.

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