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Sexual assault victim center at JBLM first in Army

Nov. 13, 2013 - 06:02PM   |  
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Sexual assault victims have one more option for reporting their assault, outside of their chain of command, at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Wash., after the post opened the Army’s first-of-a-kind sexual assault resource center.

The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program Resource Center officially opened on Nov. 5, but has been operating since July.

Soldiers can go to the center to report a sexual assault if they don’t want to go through their units, said Lt. Col. Stephanie Johnson, I Corp SHARP program manager and co-director for the center.

The center is the first in the Army that provides sexual assault victims a single place where they can meet with victim advocates, legal services and Criminal Investigation Division agents, Johnson said.

“By pulling all these resources together under one stop we truly are helping and supporting them,” said Johnson. “They are not going to have to tell their story over and over again.”

“It allows victims to report with confidentiality and with no hassles,” Johnson said.

The center has seen 120 people so far, and eight people have made a first report of a sexual assault directly to the center, Johnson said.

The center has a staff of six people, with an additional two that work part-time providing medical care and victim advocacy. There are two full-time victim advocates, one CID agent, two prosecutors and a paralegal.

Additionally, the installation victim advocate works there part time as does a medical rep that can help set up appointments for victims, Johnson said.

The SHARP program is located in the same building, and a special victim counsel, one of the lawyers the Army started providing Nov. 1 specifically to represent the interests of sex assault victims, is also located near the center.

Commanders and NCOs can also use the center to help their soldiers who have reported a sexual assault. Staff will provide them information about the process of a case or understanding what their soldier is going through, Johnson said.

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