Crime victims were also honored for National Victim’s Rights Week

SAN LUIS OBISPO COUNTY — On Monday, April 25, the San Luis Obispo (SLO) District Attorney’s Office held a commemoration event to honor victims and celebrate 45 years of their Victim Witness Center.

SLO County District Attorney Dan Dow addressed the public in front of the San Luis Obispo County Courthouse on Monterey Street in downtown SLO. Dow introduced guests at the event, including San Luis Obispo County district supervisors Bruce Gibson, Dawn Ortiz Legg, and Lynn Compton. 

Dow commemorated the 45th anniversary of the Christopher G. Money Victim Witness Assistance Center. The center was started in 1977 by Money, a former district attorney and retired judge in SLO County.

Speakers at the commemoration, in order, were Chief Deputy Aaron Nix (SLO County Sheriff’s Office), San Luis Obispo Police Chief Rick Scott, Deputy District Attorney Danielle Baker, Keynote Speaker Brittany Barber, and Victim Witness Director Tim Murphy. 

Additionally, April 24 through 30 is National Crime Victim’s Rights Week. Crime victims were honored at the commemoration.

Baker recognized victims of crime. 

“Our community as a whole suffers when crimes are committed,” she said. “Today we honor all of those victims and all of those who have been negatively affected by crime.”

Baker said she specifically wanted to talk about survivors of sexual assault, as she is assigned to the Sexual Assault Unit for SLO County. She introduced Barber, a sexual assault victim of her biological father, Michael Brians (61).

Barber was one of five women who testified against Brians for sexual assault. Brians was sentenced to 100 years to life in prison in December 2021. The case was prosecuted by Baker. 

Barber commemorated staff in the Sexual Assault Unit for their support to all the victims during the trial against Brians. 

She then shared her advice for other victims of sexual assault.

“The best piece of advice that I can give to anyone who has not yet come forward is do not let fear stop you,” shared Barber, “Because worse than the fear of coming forward is the guilt that you feel for not saying anything if that predator hurts somebody else, it is a guilt that I feel and battle every day.”

During the trial of Brians, charges for two of the victims was dropped because their occurrence happened outside the relevant scope of time due to the statute of limitations. Barber is currently collaborating with Dow to change this legislation. 

“I am going to start making my voice heard no matter what it costs to make sure that no one has to go through a court trial only to be told their voice doesn’t matter,” Barber said.