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    Boston College Law School graduate joins innovative advocacy efforts in the U.S. Navy for victims of sexual assault



    Story by Natalie Morehouse 

    U.S. Navy JAG Corps

    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 approach to victim support is the U.S. Navy’s Victims’ Legal Counsel Program.

    Lt. Paul C. Wagoner, a military lawyer with the Navy’s Judge Advocate General’s Corps, was chosen as one of the Navy’s Victims’ Legal Counsel (VLC) in San Diego, California to carry-on this program. Wagoner provides legal services to eligible victims of sexual offenses, including assistance and advocacy in the investigative and military justice processes. The VLC Program became fully operational on Jan. 1, 2014 and now consists of 33 specially trained judge advocates in 25 fleet locations around the world.

    Wagoner graduated from Boston College Law School, clerked in Massachusetts state court, and served three years as an Assistant District Attorney in Essex County. After commissioning, he completed his first tour in Jacksonville, Florida. There, he supported Commander, Navy Region Southeast in the investigation into the Chattanooga Navy Operational Support Center terrorist attack in July 2015 and supported Operation Bold Alligator aboard USS Bataan (LHD 5) in August 2016. In February 2017, Wagoner was personally selected by the Judge Advocate General of the Navy to serve as a VLC.

    “The Navy is committed to protecting the rights and interests of victims of sexual assault and ensuring the administration of a fair, transparent and efficient military justice system that guarantees due process for the accused and promotes good order and discipline,” said Vice Adm. James Crawford III, Judge Advocate General of the Navy.

    The Navy implemented the VLC Program to offer a military attorney to represent and assist victims of sexual offenses. VLC assist victims with legal decisions; represent them in military courts; advocate on their behalf to investigators, commanders, and prosecutors; and provide other legal advice and assistance connected to the sexual offense. VLC operate independently and are not within the chain of command of the offender, the victim or prosecutors. Since the Program’s inception, Navy VLC have assisted more than 2,780 victims around the world (as of April 2017).

    The VLC Program helps victims understand the investigative and military justice processes, which can sometimes become overwhelming to a victim.

    “Sexual assault survivors have emotional trauma that distinguishes them from other victims. I’m thrilled to help the Navy provide our most vulnerable shipmates the opportunity to understand and exercise their rights and interests throughout the court-martial process -- so they can focus on their own recovery,” said Wagoner.



    Date Taken: 04.01.2017
    Date Posted: 04.17.2017 12:43
    Story ID: 230589
    Location: US
    Hometown: DAYTON, OH, US

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