Press Release

Department of Law Employees Receive Awards

April 2, 2008

(Juneau, AK) Assistant District Attorney Rachel Gernat was presented the Role Model award at the Victims for Justice Annual Awards Banquet on April 12th. The banquet and award helped commemorate National Crime Victims Rights Week.

Gernat, who works in the Palmer District Attorney's office, specializes in prosecuting sexual assault and sexual abuse cases and also handles many felony domestic violence cases.

Gernat meets with each victim, often multiple times, prior to trial. She ensures they are mentally and emotionally prepared to face the defendant and to "reexperience" some of the trauma and pain of the prior abuse. "To her there is nothing more satisfying than working with a victim to enable them to sit before their abuser, tell their story, and have a jury hold the defendant accountable," said Assistant Attorney General Jay Fayette, who nominated Gernat for this award.

Another Department of Law employee, Victim Witness Paralegal Blanche Jacobs, was selected by the Tundra Women's Coalition (TWC) as one of 2008's "Yukegtaaraak," meaning good people. Jacobs will receive the award along with Representative Mary Nelson.

The Yukegtaaraak award honors individuals who are leaders in their communities through work or volunteerism, who are role models for others, and who are devoted to their families. The award will be presented at the 2008 TWC Yukegtaaraak Celebration on April 26.

Jacobs came to Alaska as a VISTA Volunteer and served as an Adult Basic Education Instructor in the village of Kongiganak, which is about 90 miles southwest of Bethel. "If it hadn't been for the priceless experiences I had at Kongiganak, I doubt I would have remained in Alaska. The people of Kongiganak were my teachers, mentors, and family, and have had a profound impact on me," Jacobs said. "Because of them, I have been fortunate enough to learn to see the world they inhabit through "Yup'ik eyes."

Jacobs has worked in the Bethel District Attorney's Office since 1989 preparing victims and witnesses for trial. She is known for her ability to empathize and ease the concerns of victims and witnesses. "Blanche is a valuable part of our team and we are very proud of her," states her supervisor District Attorney Lance Joanis.

"These two remarkable women have made a difference in the fight for victims' rights," Deputy Attorney General Rick Svobodny said. "I am pleased that their efforts are being recognized by members of their communities."

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