Light of Hope

Monday, April 15, 2002

Rain couldn't extinguish the candles lit for the most innocent victims of violence.

Buena Vista County citizens gathered in the lobby of the county courthouse for a candlelight vigil.

The Light of Hope, in its second year, is meant to remember children who died as a result of child abuse as well as the children who are the victims of abuse and neglect everyday.

Mark Prosser, Storm Lake Public Safety Director, spoke at the event on Thursday.

Since January of this year, the Storm Lake Police Department has responded to 12 calls of child abuse. Last year, officers responded to a total of 32, and in the last decade they have responded to a total of 232.

"We worry because somewhere in this state at this moment a child is being sexually assaulted, physically abused or neglected," Prosser said. "We worry about whose child is next."

It happens more than people might want to believe, he said.

"I take you back to Oct. 17, 1995," he told the group. "Seven blocks from here an infant was left dead in a closet. That murder remains open today and is unsolved."

Part of the vigil included Juvenile Court Judge Mary Timko reading off the names of all the children who died as a result of child abuse in Iowa last year and the way in which they died. Each child was represented by a cardboard cut-out. A candle was lit in front of the silhouettes as that child's name was read.

The list included five siblings bludgeoned to death in Sioux City and an unwanted child burned and left in a snowy field in Chelsea.

Prosser said he hoped the Light of Hope is one step towards ending the murder of "society's most innocent people."

"We have these young, innocent children who died at the hand of abusive, neglectful adults," he said. "We must collectively do whatever needs to be done so no others die as a result of abuse."

The vigil was sponsored by the local CASA program and the county chapter of Prevent Child Abuse Iowa.

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