Juan Carlos Cruz is a recipient of 2015 Ellis Island Medal of Honor presented by The National Ethnic Coalition of Organizations. This award is presented annually to American citizens who have distinguished themselves within their own ethnic groups while exemplifying the values of the American way of life. Past Medalists include six U.S. Presidents, one foreign President, Nobel Prize winners and leaders of industry, education, the arts, sports and government. And, of course, everyday Americans who have made freedom, liberty and compassion a part of their life's work.
Juan Carlos Cruz has been selected to receive this prestigious award for protecting children throughout Chile by demanding justice for the abuse he endured as a teen in Santiago, Chile, at the hands of the infamous perpetrator, Fr Fernando Karadima. Mr. Cruz's actions have attracted global attention and saved thousands of children from enduring the same painful abuse he suffered as a child. He exposed his perpetrator and fought to have the man removed from ministry. He has gone on to work with other survivors to create a climate where thousands of citizens of Chile now demand transparency and accountability from church officials. Many individual victims who have spent years and decades immobilized by fear and shame have been encouraged by Mr. Cruz to report the crimes they endured and begin processes of individual healing. They are united now to stop sexual violence of children and the vulnerable in the church and the greater society in Chile. Cruz generously dedicates his Medal of Honor to all survivors of sexual violence. He claims that he could not have accomplished so much without the courage of the individuals who make up the community of survivors. As part of the larger survivor community, we in SNAP gratuitously accept the honor and the warm friendship, compassion and inspiration we receive from Mr. Cruz.
Joelle Casteix has been selected to receive the Ambassador of Peace Award June 5, 2015 from the Violence Prevention Coalition of Orange County for her leadership and outstanding contributions to preventing and reducing sexual violence in Orange County, California. As a SNAP Leader Joelle has fought relentlessly to expose perpetrators and their enablers across the West Coast and beyond. She bravely and openly discusses her own experiences as a survivor of sexual abuse to inspire others to seek self-help and social change. You can read more about Joelle on her blog, The Worthy Adversary.