VICTIMS HAVE RIGHTS IN CA.....HELP PAUL GACKLE
VICTIMS HAVE RIGHTS IN CA.....HELP PAUL GACKLE
GET VICTIM SERVICES TO PAUL GACKLE. STOP THE RE-VICTIMIZATION!
Paul Gackle was stabbed 14 times during an attempted murder in San Jose, California in 2017. He developed PTSD in the aftermath of the crime, which forced him out of his job as the San Jose Sharks Beat Reporter for the San Jose Mercury News.
WE NEED YOUR HELP NOW
Four years after the stabbing, Gackle has yet to receive a single payment for income loss from the California Victims Compensation Board (CalVCB). He’s fighting debilitating mental health issues while going more than 15 months without any income during a global pandemic. Help us get Paul Gackle some financial help so he can recover from the trauma of being a victim of a violent crime and thrive again.
In spring 2017, Gackle’s attacker, Sydney Whalen, was being held at the local jail in Santa Clara County for stabbing a woman with a box cutter and punching a stranger in the face at Starbucks in Campbell, CA. She was a serial offender. In a five-year span, Whalen got charged with 17 misdemeanors and 5 felonies in Santa Clara County, including charges for attempting to smuggle a knife into jail.
Despite this violent record, the Santa Clara County District Attorney’s Office released Whalen on a plea agreement in July 2017 without any regard for the public's safety.
Following her release, Whalen went on a murderous rampage. First, she stabbed Gackle 14 times and robbed him in his apartment on July 21, 2017. Then, on Aug. 1st, she murdered Daniel Torrez with a hammer in a Hayward hotel room. The next day, she attacked a man with a hammer in Santa Cruz County and was arrested.
VICTIMS RIGHTS VIOLATED
At that point, the California Constitution article I, § 28, section (b), Victims Bill of Rights (aka Marsy’s Law) required the Santa Clara County DA’s office to be transparent with Gackle about his perpetrator. The state passed Marsy’s Law in 2008 to give victims of crime an extra layer of protection against being re-traumatized by the criminal justice process. Victims need as much information about their attackers as possible — names, charges, and court proceedings — to calm their traumatized brains from fears of re-victimization.
Under Marsy’s Law, the DA was obligated to:
● Reveal Whalen’s identity to Gackle.
● Inform Gackle of the murder charges against Whalen and all of her future court proceedings
● Allow Gackle the opportunity to speak at those hearings.
Instead of granting Gackle those rights, the DA’s office kept Gackle in the dark about Whalen’s identity, the murder of Daniel Torrez and all of her court proceedings between August 17, 2017 and September 11, 2018.
Keeping this information from Gackle only heightened his PTSD symptoms as he attempted to perform his job.
When Gackle left work late at night, he feared being murdered by Whalen’s associates, not knowing whether his attacker had gang affiliations. Gackle also struggled with restless sleep, waking up several times a night to make sure his door was locked, fearing an intrusion by someone tied to Whalen. On multiple occasions, he suffered panic attacks in airports, fearing what would happen to him when he returned to San Jose after long work trips. Giving Gackle as much information about Whalen as possible could have mollified these worries and reduced the fight or flight chemicals being released into the body from the brain.
On Sept. 11, 2018, Gackle called the DA’s office demanding to know his attacker’s identity. After a long argument, the prosecuting attorney finally relented and revealed Whalen’s identity. The next morning Gackle received a call from his Editor Bert Robinson, learning that the DA’s office had also tipped off the San Jose Mercury Newspaper about Whalen’s identity. The Mercury News ran a story that further aggravated Gackle’s raging PTSD, leaving him unable to perform his job for three weeks.
LOSS OF INCOME BECAUSE OF PTSD
In the aftermath of the story’s publication, Gackle suffered regular flashbacks of the stabbing; he went nearly two weeks without sleeping. He feared for his life when people posted his picture on Whalen’s Facebook page. The article created even more trouble for Gackle when rival fan bases of the Sharks found it online and used it to cyber bully him. Gackle eventually took a leave from work and went on state disability in April 2019.
As Gackle was preparing to return to work in September 2019, he received a call from the DA’s office informing him that they wanted his cooperation on a new plea deal for Whalen. Learning that his attacker might be released re-ignited the trauma that forced Gackle out of the job just five months earlier. In a well-documented back and forth over email, Mercury News Executive Editor Frank Pine told Gackle that he wouldn’t force him to return to work until he was ready. A day later, the Mercury News reversed course and fired him.
VICTIMS NEED REFORM
Gackle is in intensive therapy, but is not yet healthy enough to return to work. The state is compelled by Marsy’s Law to provide financial assistance to aid victims in their recovery. However, Gackle’s experience has been different. Gackle was cut off from receiving victims services from the DA’s office. He was also blocked from being able to speak with his victims advocate, and from informing Judge Morris Jacobson about the violations of his victims’ rights. In short, Gackle was left to fight for justice all alone, intentionally isolated by the DA's Office once he figured out his constitutional rights were being violated.
In recent weeks, the CalVCB has joined the list of agencies that have ignored Gackle’s cries for help. Under Marsy’s Law, victims of crime are awarded their full salaries with a verified disability that is a direct result of the crime. Gackle clearly meets the criteria. CalVCB has all the necessary documents to process Gackle's wage loss now, without any more unnecessary delays.
On July 19, 2021, Gackle reached out to Mothers Against Murder (MAM) for help with his income loss claim. The following day, we reached out to CalVCB to figure out why Gackle’s wage loss claim was still pending. The analyst assigned to work the claim was supposed to call us back. Instead, the analyst called Gackle on the four-year anniversary of his stabbing to inform him that CalVCB would not be paying out his income loss claim beyond the date of his dismissal from the Mercury News. Gackle called us in a complete state of disarray, prepared to end his life. We had to call the police that evening for intervention.
Between July 20th and August 4th, we asked CalVCB five times to give us a list of the documents necessary to enable them to issue a check to Gackle. In an email from a CalVCB manager on July 27th, we were told a recommendation had been made, but we had to wait for the answer to come by snail mail. We didn’t understand why CalVCB refused to share the decision by email when the staff and top executives knew that Gackle was living in constant fear of having his claim denied. The confusing piece of mail was sent to Gackle without a copy to his newly authorized representative at MAM, when the Program has been informed more than once Gackle is fragile and can't handle this system's abuse of powers......No one at CalVCB cared to do this right. Stand with Paul Gackle, so we get the system to stop abusing victims of crime.
While many in California have survived the pandemic thanks to help from public assistance, Gackle has now gone more than 15 months without receiving a penny of income. He has lost his apartment, his car has been repossessed and his family has taken out loans to help him survive. Gackle still suffers from nightmares, disruptive sleep, intrusive memories, panic attacks and generalized anxiety. The run around and the anticipated rejection of his income loss claim has pushed him to consider suicide as an option for relieving his pain. We can't let Paul Gackle down. He needs your help to be heard by CalVCB. Together, we can help Paul and other victims that the criminal justice system ignores every day.
It is crucial for victims of traumatic violence to receive unconditional support in the aftermath of a crime. Victims must be empowered and believe they can live free of suffering additional trauma. Throughout the legal process, Gackle’s victims’ rights have been violated, impacting his ability to recover and lead a full life. It's sad and unfortunate to see so much more trauma added to this victim's pain. It shouldn’t happen, ever.
We’re asking the California Victims Compensation Board:
o To process Gackle’s wage loss to payment immediately.
Also, we’re asking CA Attorney General Rob Bonta:
o To investigate the retaliation against Gackle by the Santa Clara County District Attorney and the San Jose Mercury News after Gackle started questioning why his victim's rights were violated.
And, we're asking CA Governor Gavin Newsom to:
o To make the necessary changes to CalVCB program so victims can be treated with the dignity and the respect that Marsy’s law require and be compensated for their eligible crime related losses.
Stand up for Paul Gackle by signing this petition. Please share widely!
We’re hoping that this petition will:
1. Secure wage loss funds for Gackle ASAP.
2. Give Gackle the financial security to recover from PTSD.
3. End Gackle’s re-traumatization from the criminal justice system.
4. Bring awareness to the plight of crime victims to make the necessary systemic changes.
Email me, if you have any questions: firstname.lastname@example.org