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Archive for Tuesday, June 10, 2003

AG gives victims’ rights job to Stephanie Schmidt’s dad

Slain woman’s father urges reporting of sex crimes

June 10, 2003

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— Gene Schmidt, who fought for tougher sexual predator laws after the 1993 death of his daughter, will become the state's victims' rights coordinator, Atty. Gen. Phill Kline said Monday.

Schmidt, 59, of Leawood, will act as a liaison between victims and Kline's office, and he will help local crime victim assistance programs. He starts July 1, the 10th anniversary of his daughter Stephanie Schmidt's rape and murder.

Kline made the announcement while in Wichita for the Kansas County and District Attorney Assn. meeting. He said in a statement the work by Schmidt and his wife, Peggy, "has made a significant difference in the lives of many people throughout our state and the entire nation."

The Schmidts became advocates for victims' rights after the death of their daughter, a 19-year-old Pittsburg State University student.

Donald Ray Gideon, a convicted sex offender, is serving life in prison for Stephanie Schmidt's rape and murder. Gideon had been her co-worker and on parole after serving five years for rape. Authorities did not notify his employer of his convictions.

Schmidt lobbied for passage of the state's Violent Sexual Predator Act in 1994. Under the law, Kansas can indefinitely confine sexual predators for treatment after they have served their prison sentences.

Schmidt said he would draw on his personal experiences as he worked directly with victims and their families.

"You do feel isolated and alone and very desperate when something likes this happens," he said.

Since his daughter's death, Schmidt has become a full-time advocate. He travels the country to talk about victims' rights, which he said was still in its infancy.

Schmidt said the public must become more aware of sexual crimes, and victims must be encouraged to report them.

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