Special Victims' Counsel

Special Victims' Counsel

by Staff Sgt. Larra Stewart
AF Legal Operations Agency

KADENA AIR BASE, Japan  -- Sexual assault is something that no one likes to talk about. It could be a very traumatic experience for someone to talk about over and over again. Victims have the SARC here to help with emotional support, but who will help with the legal process? Who is here to represent you? You have the Special Victims' Counsel here to help you through that legal process and to represent you!

The SVC program was created to provide legal support to victims of sexual assault. What is the purpose of the SVC? The purpose is to provide advice, provide advocacy and to empower victims of sexual assault.

When an investigation starts for a sexual assault allegation, victims are often overwhelmed about the events that have happened and do not quite understand what is being asked of them when they're questioned by investigators. The SVC can represent victims during those interviews. Victims have someone that is solely in their corner protecting their rights.

People do not always think about the rights that victims of crimes have. The SVC is here to protect those rights in sexual assault cases. In many cases, the parties try to get information about a victim's sexual history or mental health records and have it become evidence in a courts-martial proceeding. If a victim is represented, SVCs will do everything in their power to try to keep that kind of information out of the court room.

A victim of sexual assault may encounter a host of issues when a sexual assault has occurred. Those issues can include the decision to participate in the legal process, the perpetrator harassing the client, and potential misconduct committed by the victim such as underage drinking. SVCs exist to resolve those issues, and to explain such issues to the client. Remember, any information shared with SVC personnel, who are attorneys or paralegals, is confidential. SVCs represent victims that have made both restricted and unrestricted reports. They want to do everything that they can to assist victims to feel empowered throughout the process.

So who can the SVC represent? All Active Duty Air Force members are eligible for SVC representation, as well as AF Reserve and ANG (who are in Title 10 status at the time of the offense). If the accused is an Air Force member, then Active Duty members of other branches and adult dependents are also eligible for SVC representation.

The SVC's primary goal is to help victims through the legal process, explaining, assisting and supporting throughout. Now the Air Force has a program where victims have someone in there corner that will fight for them and only them. SVCs exist to protect the rights and privacy of victims of sexual assault in any way that they can.

The Western Pacific SVC consists of two attorneys and one paralegal. Capt. Chad Evans and Staff Sgt. Larra Stewart are both stationed at Kadena AB, Japan; Capt. Bradley Mumford is stationed at Yokota AB, Japan. We take care of six bases in our region (Misawa, Kadena, Yokota, Kunsan, Osan and Andersen). Capt. Bradley Mumford can be contacted at the DSN number 315- 225-8880.

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