Sexual Assault/Sex Offenses
Sexual Assault is a crime punishable by both civil and criminal legal action. In addition, the University Judicial System administered through the Office of the Dean of Students adjudicates, at the request of the victim, all cases involving sex offenses in which the alleged perpetrator is a UVa Student. There are several avenues for assistance if a person becomes the victim of a sex offense.
Two key points to remember are that the assault was not your fault and
there is help available.
The Police Department’s Victim/Witness Assistance Program protects the rights of victims and witness of crimes. Referral information is accessible at all times regarding area services available for general counseling, medical attention, emergency housing or financial assistance. Responsiveness to the needs of crime victims is a department priority. Please contact Angela Tabler: firstname.lastname@example.org
IF SEXUAL ASSAULT HAPPENS TO YOU:
Everyone, both women and men, should know what can be done if someone you know has been sexually assaulted. A sexual assault is a traumatic experience and no one should feel forced to do anything; however, below is a list of options that one may utilize if they so choose:
Take advantage of the resources available for victims of sexual assault
As mentioned above, victims of very recent assaults should go to the University of Virginia Hospital Emergency Department for a physical exam and the collection of evidence. All victims, past or present, should be seen by a qualified physician or nurse to check for sexually transmitted diseases, physical trauma, and possible pregnancy. The University of Virginia Emergency Department has a Forensic Nurse Examiner who can assist with the collection of evidence. Again, if you do not wish to formally report, the nurse will assign a code to your evidence kit and give you the number for future reference, or if you decide to go ahead and make a formal police report. Female victims may prefer to see a female physician, and should request one if that will increase their comfort, though in the emergency room that may not always be possible. Even if no symptoms are apparent, victims are still strongly encouraged to seek medical attention.
Counseling is often crucial to the recovery process, even for individuals
who are managing relatively well after experiencing sexual assault or
intimate partner violence. We encourage victims to seek the assistance
of qualified professionals, even if many years have elapsed since the
assault. As always, the choice to seek counseling should be the victim’s.
The Women’s Center at UVa, Sexual Assault Resource Agency (SARA),
which is located in downtown Charlottesville, and Shelter for Help in
Emergency (our local domestic violence program and shelter), with an outreach
center in Albemarle County, have counselors on staff who specialize in
working with survivors of gender violence. These services are FREE OF
CHARGE and completely CONFIDENTIAL. Students at the University of Virginia
also have free and confidential access to counseling services through
Student Health's Counseling and Psychological Services. Private counselors
also are a good source of support through the recovery process, although
they charge for their services. This is a viable option for people who
have health insurance. All of the agencies mentioned above can refer survivors,
their family members and friends to private therapists in the community
who are known to have expertise in this area.
Legal and Judicial Options
Sexual assault victims have three judicial options from which to choose: filing criminal charges, filing campus judicial charges, through the Sexual Misconduct Board if the alleged perpetrator is a University of Virginia Student, and filing civil charges. Victims are not limited to just one of these options, but can choose any combination including filing all three types of charges.
A police report must be generated before an investigation can begin and charges can be filed. If the assault happened on campus, it falls under the jurisdiction of the UVa Police. If the assault occurred off-campus in the city of Charlottesville, it falls under the jurisdiction of the Charlottesville Police. If the assault occurred in the county, it falls under the jurisdiction of the Albemarle County Police.
Many victims believe that if they do not file criminal charges immediately, they lose that option. This may not be the case. There are statutes of limitation for filing criminal charges, but they are typically several years in duration. Certainly, it is best to go to the police as soon as possible after an assault, in order to preserve as much evidence as possible. The police will arrange for the victim to be seen at the UVa Hospital for medical care and evidence collection. However, even if some time has elapsed, the police still encourage victims to come forward. Criminal charges are prosecuted by the Commonwealth of Virginia, not the individual victim. A Commonwealth’s Attorney will argue the case at no cost to the victim. The victim serves as the primary witness to the crime, and his or her testimony is crucial to the case. Criminal cases may take considerable time to proceed through the justice system. Typically, the press protects the identity of the victim, although the identity of the accused perpetrator is not protected.
Victims of sexual assault may report an assault to the police in one of two ways: First, they can report directly to the police either by calling 911 or requesting police is called by at the UVA Emergency Department if they seek medical attention. Victims can also report anonymously at http://www.virginia.edu/sexualviolence/sexualassault/reportingoptions/anonymous.html
University judicial charges can only be filed if the alleged offender
is a UVa student. The referral agent is typically a member of the UVa
community as well but does not need to be a student or staff member..
The campus judicial system examines violations of university policy. Campus
judicial hearings do not replace or substitute for criminal prosecutions,
and students who choose campus judicial hearings are also encouraged to
seek redress through the criminal justice system. For more comprehensive
information about the services and support available to University students
in cases of sexual misconduct, please visit www.virginia.edu/sexualviolence
Last Modified: 13-Feb-2013 09:28:25 EDT
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