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    Army, Air Force, Guard SVCs are available on JBER

    Army, Air Force, Guard SVCs are available on JBER

    Photo By Tech. Sgt. Kyle Johnson | Special Victims' Counsels are available on Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska for...... read more read more



    Story by Airman 1st Class Kyle Johnson 

    Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson Public Affairs   

    Victims of sexual assault and sexual harassment can seek legal counsel from a special victims' counselor at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson.

    Army National Guard Lt. Col. Ruth Anne Cresenzo, National Guard Regional SVC (Alaska), helps victims through the legal aftermath of sexual assault/sexual harassment.

    "I'm a special victims' counsel with the National Guard in the northwest region, but I'm focused on Alaska right now," Cresenzo said.

    "I'm the voice of the victim, I consider myself a shield from - and a bridge to - the system."

    Each SVC is equipped to deal with each branch's unique legal process and can provide victims with the ability to make informed legal decisions and seek legal representation, if necessary.

    As a team, SVCs aim to provide victims of sexual assault in the region with all the resources, information and tools they need to work toward their legal interests.

    The process
    Like their trauma, the process is different for each victim. The best way for victims to gain understanding is to consult with an SVC in person.

    To do so, victims may request to speak with an SVC at any point during the reporting process. If the process has not begun, victims may call the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office or Sexual Assault Response Coordinator and request one.

    There are different kinds of reports and - depending on where in the process a particular victim is - the SVC will be able to help in different ways. A victim can file a restricted report or an unrestricted report. An SVC can provide guidance on both.

    Additionally, if a report is not made, they can enable a victim to make an educated decision as to which type of report to file, or whether to file at all, Cresenzo said.

    Restricted reporting
    The main difference between the two types of reporting is an unrestricted report may spark a legal investigation process whereas a restricted report does not.

    In both cases, privacy and confidentiality are given a high priority, and recovery services are available.

    "The victims have a right to privacy," Henley said. "That is paramount to any discussion regardless of the type of report being used."

    If one wanted to file a restricted report with the SAPR or Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention office, they have the option to request legal advice from an SVC, even before filing the report.

    "Half the time people talk to me for the first time, it's to help them decide if they want to make a restricted or unrestricted report," Cresenzo said. "With a restricted report, a victim is able to get connected with services that may be able to help them with the trauma, and by being in the National Guard, they can get a line of duty. A line of duty is a memorandum from the National Guard Bureau. It requires more than a claim of sexual assault to get one, but it's not a burden on the victim either."

    If someone were to begin experiencing complications as a result of the trauma, the line of duty they received after they filed a restricted report could allow them benefits or compensation, even after leaving the service, Cresenzo said.

    Unrestricted Reporting
    Alternatively, a victim can file an unrestricted report, which will begin a legal investigation. For the National Guard, the investigation begins with local law enforcement, Cresenzo said.

    "Many of our survivors are citizen-soldiers, so most of the time, they're not in a duty status," Cresenzo said. "We're going to take care of the victim, but we are also going to refer it immediately to local law enforcement, and depending on where it took place, that would be the Anchorage Police Department or the Alaska State Troopers."

    While the investigation is handled by local law enforcement, Cresenzo will act as a bridge between the victim and the authorities, she said.

    "If the police are looking for a statement from a victim and they're not quite ready to give that statement, then I can liaise between the victim and the investigator on that," Cresenzo said. "I can also coordinate the interview for the victim. I can get them through that process."

    Because the military and state justice systems define sexual assault differently, it may be possible civilian prosecutors will drop the case. In this event, the investigation can be picked up by the National Guard Bureau Office of Complex Investigations and channeled through the military justice system, much like it would if it were an active duty case, Cresenzo said.

    "When people have their own advocate, when they know there's somebody out there just for them, I'm finding they put more trust in the process," Cresenzo said.

    To make a report, call 384-7272, For more information on the reporting and legal process of sexual assault, contact the SAPR office at 551-2035 or SHARP office at 384-3765.

    Editor's note: The active duty Army SVC is Capt. Wendy Schrank and the active duty Air Force SVC is Capt. Jonathan Henley.

    This article focuses on the SVC available to Alaska National Guard members and their family members, for perspective on what the process looks like for active duty, this article may be helpful:



    Date Taken: 01.29.2016
    Date Posted: 02.09.2016 12:51
    Story ID: 188363

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