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National Crime Victim Law Institute

Fighting for Military Sexual Assault Victims’ Rights

February 08, 2013

Sexual assault is perpetrated in the United States at epidemic rates and the military is not exempt from this reality.  In fact, recent media attention has spotlighted the unique challenges faced by military victims.  NCVLI is at the forefront of efforts to assist the military in reforming systems to improve justice for victims.

This fall the Air Force contacted NCVLI for assistance building a program to better support sexual assault victims during military justice proceedings. NCVLI provided extensive consultation on the propriety and importance of independent legal counsel for victims, and advised on the development of the “Special Victim Counsel” program, which pairs sexual assault victims with independent attorneys to protect their rights.  To assist in program implementation, NCVLI Executive Director Meg Garvin traveled to the Maxwell Air Force Base in Alabama in December to participate in training 60 military attorneys over the course of three days on the how-to of representing victims.

In January the Stars and Stripes military newspaper reported on the launch of the Air Force’s new program and NCVLI’s involvement.  Click here to read more.      

In late January the program launched and nearly immediately one of the newly assigned victim attorneys was on the ground fighting to protect a victim’s rights to privacy and to be heard.  And almost as immediately, the legal question of whether the victim and her attorney have standing to argue for rights was raised.  NCVLI is assisting in the case to ensure that this and future victims have their rights afforded by the military courts. 

On Friday, February 22, NCVLI filed an amicus brief in this case to educate the military courts on the importance of victims’ rights.


Update: On March 25, 2013: wrote an article about the Special Victims Counsel Program with updates on its progress to date.  Click here to read more.  In April 2013 the Air Force released an update on the Special Victims Counsel Program.  Click here to read the update.


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