A panel of six victims of crimes ranging from bullying to rape and stabbing joined the discussion led by Josh Nation, a member of the task force.
Vice chairman for the citizen group, Niki Lemeshka, said following the event that task force has been around for more than 20 years and works to make Cherokee County residents more aware of crimes committed against their fellow residents.
Nation said awareness is important, too.
He told those in attendance that valuable knowledge can be gleaned from the tales of victims like those on the event’s panel.
The first from the panel to address the roughly 40 people in attendance Thursday were mother and son, Claire and Daniel, whose last names, like those of other victims on the panel, were withheld.
Daniel was riding a school bus last year when he was assaulted by an older boy.
The boy “stole (Daniel’s) cellphone and smashed it numerous times against the side of his face,” Claire said.
Daniel went home and his mother noticed his face was badly bruised.
She, her husband and Daniel decided to press charges, which she said she hoped would not serve as revenge but rather get the older boy help.
The judge didn’t punish the boy, Daniel said.
“He helped him,” by sentencing him to probation, he said.
Those left behind by crimes were also represented on the panel.
Married couple Charisse and David told the crowd the story of their son, Steven, who died in 2010, a victim of vehicular homicide.
Steven was riding in a truck with friends on Dec. 5, 2010, when they got into an accident, Charisse said.
The couple got a phone call that morning saying that their 20-year-old son had been hurt and to come to the hospital.
It was about 5 a.m. when the call came through and Charisse said they rushed to the hospital and found their older son, James.
When they got there “James (was) crying and (wouldn’t) answer when we (asked) ‘Where is Steven,’” she said.
They learned later that Steven died in the accident.
Charisse said the scene was full of shock and tears.
The tears continue today, she said.
Nation, the moderator of the event said, although they’re difficult to relive, stories like Steven’s are important for others to hear to gain insight into others’ lives.
“This is called an ‘impact panel,’” Nation said. “And I think that everybody’s walking out of here impacted from your stories.”