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Crime Victim Helps Others Survive Ordeals

  • Date Submitted: 10/28/2010 06:22 AM
  • Flesch-Kincaid Score: 67.4 
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Crime victim helps others survive ordeals
Saturday, April 24, 2010
PATERSON — Dana D'Ambola Minervini intends to stand alongside crime victims and their relatives at Sunday's candlelight vigil — in part to give thanks that she is among those who still can.

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Teacher Dana D'Ambola Minervini became a crime victims' advocate after being injured by a drunken driver in 2006.
And she will go with a much better perspective now than when her life intersected with Anthony Cipolla on Feb. 15, 2006, on Hamburg Turnpike in Wayne.

By 2007, D'Ambola Minervini had two surgeries behind her, four surgeries to go, a metal rod in her leg and a fledgling teaching career derailed by physical therapy and pain. Struck by a drunken driver in Wayne, she was a crime victim like any other. So why didn't she feel that way?

"I felt like the criminal on trial. I felt like I did something wrong," said the 30-year-old East Rutherford resident. Many victims often feel that way, say victim advocates, because the justice system can sometimes put them through the wringer.

It was a case made even more painful in that it left victims — both dead and alive — on both sides of the legal aisle. Anthony Cipolla, a former Paterson police officer, was sentenced in 2007 to a six-year state prison sentence after pleading guilty to death by auto and assault by auto while intoxicated within 1,000 feet of a school. Cipolla's 20-year-old son Christopher, who was in the passenger seat of the vehicle, was killed.

That the Cipolla family suffered terribly because of what happened is unquestionable. But what D'Ambola Minervini did question – at least at the time of sentencing – was the family's belief that Anthony Cipolla had somehow suffered enough. And that somehow, he became "the victim."

"My father was a great man. He doesn't deserve this," Cipolla's 26-year-old daughter, Danielle, said of her father's...


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