SVC provides support to sexual assault victims

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Zachary Hada
  • 28 Bomb Wing Public Affairs
The Special Victim's Counsel, a new Air Force program, will be implemented Jan. 28 and will provide legal assistance to victims of sexual assault.

"Until the SVC program began, there were only two kinds of lawyers involved in dealing with sexual assault crimes -- prosecutors who represent the interests of the government, and defense attorneys who represent the interest of the accused," noted Capt. Michelangelo Avidano, 28th Bomb Wing judge advocate.

For the first time there will be a third kind of lawyer -- the SVC who will represent the interests of the victim.

Avidano was one of 60 attorneys to receive the training AF wide and represent the program at Ellsworth to ensure that base legal operations and procedures run smoothly.

Avidano explained that this program has the potential to provide well-deserved assistance to victims of sexual assault.

"Being a victim of such a terrible crime is already traumatic because of the nature of the crime," said Avidano. "Unfortunately the trauma can be made worse by the complexities of the criminal justice systems that deal with these crimes."

The SVC program can help lessen the trauma associated with the legal processes because now certain victims can choose to have their own lawyers.

The AF has recognized that it is not only necessary to fight sexual assaults in the military and to make sure justice is done, but it is also important to give special assistance to the victims of the crimes.

The SVCs and victims will form an attorney and client relationship that will help them communicate with each other better than prosecutors could with victims. With a designated attorney aiding them, they can explain all of the legal processes and procedures designed to ease a victim's anxiety.

SVC attorneys are also responsible for making sure that victims have the right to be reasonably heard and represented at certain public proceedings, while protecting their legal rights and privacy as much as possible.

Avidano noted that along with the AF, Ellsworth will continue to fight to reduce, if not eliminate, sexual assaults.

For more information on the SVC, call the 28th BW JA at (605) 385-2329.