Legal office helps Holloman's sexual assault victims

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman DeAndre Curtiss
  • 49th Wing Public Affairs
Editor's note: April is Sexual Assault Awareness Month. This is part two of a three-part series on sexual assault and the options for victims.

After a sexual assault occurs, victims may feel helplessness and anguish.

There are many stops on the road to recovery, but one key step can be justice, which is where the 49th Wing legal office can help. The legal office provides many services to victims during and after the sexual assault report process.

"We work directly with the Office of Special Investigations and civilian law enforcement agencies to address the misconduct of sexual assault," said Capt. Steven Spencer, 49th Wing staff judge advocate chief of justice. "We assist in the investigation by providing our advice, and after the initial part of the investigation we prepare to prosecute the offenders."

The best possible result for the victim is one of the many goals of the legal office. The prosecution of sexual assault offenders helps ensure that, through discipline, justice is preserved in the U.S. Air Force, and assures our Airmen that the act of sexual assault will not be tolerated.

Victims of sexual assault are highly encouraged by the legal office to report as soon as possible.

"It is important for a victim to report sexual assault, because it gives you justice and it says that you are not fine with the act happening," said Spencer. "It is a vital step in taking back control of the circumstances and regaining control."

According to Spencer, the length of legal cases against sexual assault offenders varies. If the case is more evidence-based, it can take a much longer time than cases that have eyewitnesses. The time frame from initial report to final action usually takes several months at Holloman AFB.

One of the many services the legal office provides is the Victims Witness Assistance program. This service provides victims with someone who can walk them through the court martial proceedings, attend any interviews with the prosecution or the defense counsel, and to act as liaison between council and the victim.

"A lot of individuals, military or civilian, do not understand how court martial proceeding work, and that's where I come in," said Diane Adams, Victims Witness Assistance program liaison. "My duty is to the victim. I help them along every step of the way."

There are many options for sexual assault victims to get help, and the legal office is one of those outlets. For more information on the 49th Wing legal office and what they can do for sexual assault victims, call (575) 572-7217.

**Victims are always urged to contact the SARC at 527-6789, prior to notifying other agencies, in order to have the option of a restricted report.