Air Force

January 11, 2013

Air Force to provide dedicated legal counsel to sexual assault victims

Tags:
by Rich Lamance
Air Force News Service
Air Force Week kicks off in New York City
(U.S. Air Force graphic/Corey Parrish)

WASHINGTON, D.C. — A new Air Force pilot program designed to provide legal assistance to victims of sexual assault will begin later in January.

The Special Victims’ Counsel Program will give sexual assault victims legal assistance and help them navigate the criminal justice system with lawyers trained to handle their unique needs.

“It takes a strong team to succeed in our mission to protect and defend the nation and sexual assault undermines that,” said Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. Mark A. Welsh III. “It’s devastating to those involved. The Special Victims’ Counsel will provide victims of sexual assault with a better understanding of the criminal process from an expert who is specially qualified to represent the victim. This program embodies what the Air Force is all about — taking care of our people.”

Experience shows that when victims believe that their actions leading to the assault are the subject of excessive scrutiny, they become upset and less willing to pursue their allegations. Some felt re-victimized by a process designed to hold offenders accountable — in essence, they felt blamed for what happened to them.

“Victims, who are dealing with a sense of loss of control and sometimes post traumatic stress disorder, are often overwhelmed by what can be a grueling and lengthy criminal process,” said Lt. Gen. Richard C. Harding, Air Force Judge Advocate General. “With legal counsel providing greater support and advocacy throughout the investigatory and trial process, most victims will not walk away feeling victimized a second time.”

Harding hopes the program will help victims combat anxiety and will assist them in navigating the investigatory and military justice processes.

“Building victim resiliency benefits both the victims, who will have someone representing their interests and the Air Force,” the general said. “The program will help uphold victims’ rights and services available to support and identify gaps in victims’ services.”

The program will provide 60 specially-trained attorneys Air Force-wide who will be placed geographically and who are certified trial counsel and expressed a desire to help victims of sexual assault.

According to Harding, the specialized training gives the attorneys in-depth training from experts in military justice and legal ethics, as well as from a civilian expert on counsel for victims. The course also provides practical exercises designed to familiarize the attorneys with potential scenarios they will encounter in the field.

Harding said he sees a three-step process to providing assistance to victims. “First we will begin offering victims counsel services with counsel in existing legal offices starting, Jan. 28. The program will provide an information-sharing network to build upon ‘best practices.’ Second, we expect to standup a new, independent organization similar to the structure of our area defense counsel with additional manpower this summer. Finally third, as we gain experience, we will continue to refine and improve our rules of practice and training curriculum.”

Harding added that the creation of a program to address the needs of the victim is long overdue and he feels that this new program will go a long way in supporting victims and their rights while at the same time protecting the due process rights of the accused.

In talking about the courtroom in sexual assault cases, Harding pointed out that, “Prosecutors represent the government and even though the interests of the government and victims frequently align, prosecutors are unable to provide legal representation to victims. Because of the unfamiliarity with the criminal and military justice process, victims can feel overwhelmed with lengthy interviews with law enforcement, prosecutors and defense counsel. Special Victims’ Counsel will help them understand the importance of separate interviews with different personnel in the military justice process and help protect their privacy and prevent unnecessary disclosure of intimate details. If you are a victim of sexual assault, the Special Victims’ Counsel is your attorney — you have complete attorney-client confidentiality and they will zealously advocate on your behalf.”




All of this week's top headlines to your email every Friday.


 
 

 

BASH: Protecting our aircraft, Airmen

U.S. Air Force photo/2nd Lt. Bari Wald David Briseño, wildlife biologist with the United States Department of Agriculture and head of Marchs’ Bird/Anti-Aircraft Strike Hazard (BASH) program, prepares to fire a 12-gauge ‘shell cracker’ into the air with his shotgun. Firing ‘shell crackers’ is one of many pyrotechnic methods used in the BASH program to...
 
 
US_Air_Force_Logo

Strategic agility is the future of the Air Force

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — As the Air Force prepares for new challenges and opportunities of the coming decades, it faces sobering 21st-century realities: global centers of power have become more distributed and the terrorism th...
 
 

SECAF: Air Force grapples with Congress to fund readiness

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — To balance readiness today and modernization tomorrow, the Air Force’s fiscal year 2015 budget request is shrinking like today’s defense budget thanks to Congress’s own priorities and the approaching threat of sequestration in 2016, Air Force leaders said July 30. Secretary of the Air Force Deborah Lee James and Air Force Chief...
 

 
BlueTube

Voting now open for American Airman Video Contest

  Voting for the 2014 American Airman Video Contest is now open and runs until Aug. 22 at 3 p.m. CDT. The contest launched July 1 for all Total Force Airmen to showcase their Air Force stories in short selfie videos. “Ev...
 
 

AF implements career intermission pilot program

WASHINGTON — Up to 40 active-duty, Air Force Reserve and Air National Guard officers and enlisted members who meet eligibility requirements will be offered between one and three years of partially-paid time out of uniform to focus on personal and professional pursuits under the Career Intermission Pilot Program, or CIPP, Air Force officials announced July...
 
 

Air Force to change enlisted evaluations, promotions

WASHINGTON (AFNS) — Air Force officials announced a series of sweeping changes to the Enlisted Evaluation System and Weighted Airman Promotion System (WAPS) July 31. The changes are intended to ensure the Air Force truly makes job performance the driving factor and will be implemented incrementally beginning in August 2014 and continuing through early 2016....
 




0 Comments


Be the first to comment!


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

You may use these HTML tags and attributes: <a href="" title=""> <abbr title=""> <acronym title=""> <b> <blockquote cite=""> <cite> <code> <del datetime=""> <em> <i> <q cite=""> <strike> <strong>


Directory powered by Business Directory Plugin