By Army Flier Staff ReportsOctober 27, 2016
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Serving the needs of sexual assault victims remains a top priority throughout the U.S. Army, and Fort Rucker's Office of the Judge Advocate now has a new counsel to give victims much-needed support.
Capt. Daniel Hancock, Fort Rucker's newly-appointed special victims' counsel, will work with victim advocates and victim witness liaisons to ensure victims fully understand their rights throughout the military investigative, judicial and legal administrative processes.
The Special Victim Counsel Program was designed to protect the rights of sexual assault victims. Special victims' counsels are specially-trained military attorneys who work for no one but the victim, he said.
"Anyone who has made a sexual assault complaint has access to special victims' counsel," Hancock said. "I am here to answer any questions they may have and to guide them through the legal processes."
Each special victim counsel is a licensed attorney, member of the Judge Advocate General's Corps and hand-selected to perform this important role, the captain added.
All are trained and certified to represent eligible victims of sexual assault, regardless of whether the victim chooses to file a restricted or unrestricted report of sexual assault. A counsel forms an attorney-client relationship with each victim of sexual assault, providing the protections of confidentiality and attorney-client privilege, Hancock said.
According to the Department of Defense, victims must be confident that, should they report a sexual assault, they will be treated fairly. Part of that fair treatment is ensuring they know and can exercise their rights.
In response, the military now requires that victims reporting an assault be notified of their right to consult with a special victims' counsel and of the availability of other legal assistance. Victims must receive this explanation at the time they report a sexual assault, Hancock said.
"The most rewarding part of this job is the ability to work one-on-one with other Soldiers," he said. "It is a change of pace from working in a courtroom."
In addition, no one in a victim's chain of command or the accused's chain of command may influence a special victims' counsel in providing legal support to a victim, he added.
Hancock's primary duty is to support his clients' rights and interests throughout all phases of a sexual assault investigation, and any resulting military justice or administrative proceedings against the service member accused of the sexual assault.
He will provide in-person representation of victims of sexual assault at courts-martial proceedings and educate victims on the military justice system, so that they can make informed decisions throughout all phases of the process. Additionally, he will address any retaliation that the victim may experience, and help victims take advantage of the variety of medical and legal services available to them.
Eligible victims are all active duty Soldiers reporting sexual assaults, family members, retirees and their family members and certain DOD civilian employees who were sexually assaulted by a service member.
Hancock's office is located in the Soldier Service Center, Bldg. 5700, Rm. 320, and he may be reached at 255-3482.
Members of the DOD community who have been affected by sexual assault can also access 24/7, confidential, anonymous support through the DOD Safe Helpline at www.safehelpline.org or by calling 877-995-5247.