U.S. Navy’s Victim Legal Counsel

April marks sexual assault awareness and prevention month and the military has focused much effort on its prevention and care for victims of sexual assault.  One program lauded as an […]

April marks sexual assault awareness and prevention month and the military has focused much effort on its prevention and care for victims of sexual assault.  One program lauded as an innovative, successful approach to victim support is the U.S. Navy’s Victim Legal Counsel (VLC) Program.  The VLC Program consists of 29 specially trained judge advocates in 24 fleet locations around the world.  

The Navy implemented the VLC Program to offer a military attorney to represent and assist victims of sexual assault. VLCs assist victims with legal decisions; represent them in military courts-martial; advocate on their behalf to investigators, commanders, and prosecutors; and provide other legal advice and assistance connected to the sexual assault.

“It is certainly challenging helping a victim of such a horrendous crime understand and appreciate that they do, in fact have a voice and that they will be heard. We must remember that these survivors often feel as though all control has been taken away from them. It is my job to put that control back in their hands. It is a slow and deliberate process but it is working, and the results are nothing short of remarkable.” said Lt. Drew Schaffer, VLC, Naval Submarine Base New London.

“The VLC Program is instrumental in overcoming sexual assaults in the military. Victims know they can now come forward and they will be supported and protected throughout the investigation. The Navy’s VLC Program has shown victims that their voices will be heard; they know that the Navy is committed to protecting the rights and interests of all victims, and they will receive the best care, advice, and that the offenders will be held accountable, as appropriate,” said Lt. Cmdr. Amy Peery, VLC, Naval Base San Diego.

“The benefits provided by the VLC program can’t be understated,” said Murphy.  “The legal  process can be overwhelming and frankly, confusing – especially for people who have  experienced the trauma of sexual assault.   The rights afforded to victims are not always  transparent, nor are the choices that accompany these rights.  We help them navigate the legal  process and find their voice which can be very empowering for my clients.”

“The benefits provided by the VLC program can’t be understated. The legal process can be overwhelming and frankly, confusing – especially for people who have experienced the trauma of sexual assault. The rights afforded to victims are not always transparent, nor are the choices that accompany these rights. We help them navigate the legal process and find their voice which can be very empowering for my clients,” said Lt. Cmdr. Mary Murphy, VLC, CNATRA.

“VLCs strengthen the support provided to victims in our military justice system by ensuring that they have a voice and a choice in the process.  The purpose of this program and our sister  services’ programs is to empower victims of sexual crimes by ensuring that they have an  opportunity to be heard, by protecting their rights and privacy, and by increasing the level of  legal assistance during these difficult processes,” said LT Podgorski.

“VLCs strengthen the support provided to victims in our military justice system by ensuring that they have a voice and a choice in the process. The purpose of this program and our sister services’ programs is to empower victims of sexual crimes by ensuring that they have an opportunity to be heard, by protecting their rights and privacy, and by increasing the level of legal assistance during these difficult processes,” said Lt. Carina Podgorski, VLC, EURAFSWA Rota, Spain.

“Being a VLC is a duty unlike any other in the military. You don’t represent the Government, you don’t represent the accused, you represent the victim, and in an adversarial system like the criminal justice process, you bring a whole new perspective to the prosecution of criminal sex offenses,” said Lt. Adrienne M. Baldoni, VLC, Naval Base San Diego.

 

Navy Victims’ Legal Counsel are assigned regionally to maximize availability of counsel where needed most. Find the counsel closest to you here.

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