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.


 
 

 
U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Michael Quiboloy

18th AF views March as model for Total Force Integration

U.S. Air Force photo/ Staff Sgt. Michael Quiboloy (Center)Lt. Gen. Carlton D. Everhart II, commander, 18th Air Force, speaks with a group of Airmen on the future of the air mobility enterprise and total force integration, durin...
 
 
U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Matt Proietti

War’s end meant 452nd’s demise…for 20 months

U.S. Air Force photo by Senior Master Sgt. Matt Proietti Technical Sgt. Ed Hinrichs, left, and Staff Sgt. Harvey A. Shaw share memories of their time as B-17 Flying Fortress gunners at a 452nd Bomb Group Association reunion. (F...
 
 

Evaluating detox diets: Do they actually work?

When it comes to detox diets, women are a prime target for marketers, who promise a wide range of health benefits including increased energy, focus and immune function. Weight loss claims are also made for some detox plans. Yet these diets are not scientifically proven to be effective. The basic idea is that detox diets...
 

 

‘Lucky 13’ tips for a safe and happy Halloween

Whether you’re goblin or ghoul, vampire or witch, poor costume choices—including decorative contact lenses and flammable costumes—and face paint allergies can haunt you long after Halloween if they cause injury. Enjoy a safe and happy Halloween by following the “lucky 13” guidelines from FDA, the Consumer Product Safety Commission, and the Centers for Disease Control...
 
 

VA guarantees its 21 millionth home loan

WASHINGTON – The Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) announced this month that it has guaranteed 21 million home loans since the Home Loan Guaranty program was established in 1944 as part of the original Servicemen’s Readjustment Act of 1944, better known as the “GI Bill.” This achievement comes during the year-long commemoration of 70 years...
 
 
ncsam-graphic

Online vigilance helps reduce security risks

I received at least five emails last week warning me to secure my social media settings and be aware of what I post on Facebook, Twitter and Instagram. Why? Do you not like to see what I had for dinner last night? Too many #sel...
 




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