Attorney James Clark Founded Victim Rights Center in 2013

Donate to the Founder’s Fund for Children

Jim Clark’s recent work at Victim Rights Center has focused on serving children, work not covered by our major grants. To help VRCCT continue to serve these most vulnerable victims, please DONATE to the Founder’s Fund for Children this year!

DONATE NOW, PLEASE!

Founder Jim Clark is retiring as Executive Director!

Founder and Executive Director Jim Clark is Retiring! Senior Attorney Maura Crossin will lead our work for victims as Executive Director, beginning January 1, 2018.

Attorney James Clark founded Victims’ Rights Center of Connecticut (VRCCT) in 2013 driven by a lifelong passion: putting the legal process to work helping victims of sexual assault and other violent crimes. When the North Haven resident retires as Executive Director in January (2018), he leaves behind a thriving organization that has brought legal support to many hundreds of victims who had nowhere else to turn at a time of extreme personal trauma.

“Jim saw a critical need in Connecticut,” says VRCCT Board of Directors President Wick Chambers. “So, instead of retiring after leaving his professorship at the Army’s JAG school in 2013, he started VRCCT with his own funds and grew it with government grants, private donations, and a strong Board. It’s been a true labor of love.”

Today Wallingford-based VRCCT is the only no-fee legal services organization in Connecticut that provides comprehensive, holistic legal services for victims of sexual assault, child abuse, elder abuse and homicide. It is the only legal non-profit in the state that specifically identifies LGBT victims as part of its core mission.

Funded by private foundations, individual donations and a Legal Assistance for Victims grant awarded by the Office on Violence Against Women, U.S. Department of Justice, VRCCT currently serves Hartford, Middlesex, New Haven and Eastern Fairfield counties with plans to expand.

A triathlete and member of Team USA, Clark has the energy, focus and perseverance it takes to build an organization like VRCCT, “but also the knowledge and compassion critical to helping those in trauma,” says Chambers.

“Victims are too often abandoned by the systems that are supposed to protect them. They rightfully fear not being believed, fear for their safety, and are concerned about assaults on their privacy. The trauma and consequences of being a victim of violent crime can disrupt or threaten their job, housing, education, immigration status, or even medical benefits,” Clark explains. “Too often, they face these disruptions to their lives without any legal help. We strive to address all of the life issues they face as victims. Often they have rights they don’t know about. The law can help them stabilize their lives and become survivors.”

Clark’s perspective on victims’ needs and rights began when he co-founded a legal clinic for domestic violence victims in 1979 while a law student at University of California Hastings College of the Law (San Francisco). His desire to provide legal services to victims of violent crime evolved over his more than 25 years as a prosecutor and during his years as the first civilian professor and subject matter expert on sexual assault crimes at the U. S. Army’s Judge Advocate General’s Legal Center & School (Charlottesville, VA).

In addition to serving crime victims, Clark also provides training in trauma-informed response to sexual assault and effective sexual assault investigations to both police officers and victim advocates. He’s currently a member of the Connecticut Bar Association’s LGBT Committee.

With such a committed career, it’s no surprise Clark isn’t going cold turkey. He will transition to an “Of Counsel” position at VRCCT for a time once VRCCT Senior Attorney Maura Crossin steps up as Executive Director next month.

“I’m proud to say our team of five attorneys is well prepared to carry on without me and, having worked with Maura for more than two years, I have absolute confidence in her vision for the organization and her leadership, says Clark. “She has spent 11 years working on victims’ rights in various capacities. She’s ready. I will continue to serve a few clients, do some training, and advise VRCCT lawyers as needed.

“My hope is that VRCCT will continue to grow and serve more of the thousands of victims of sexual assault and other violent crimes in our state every year,” Clarks adds. “Today, we have capacity to serve a small percent of them. The need is enormous.”

In his newfound spare time, Clark hopes to become fluent in Spanish. He will continue writing about women’s basketball for Women’s Hoops World and volunteering at Columbus House Soup Kitchen. And after competing on Team USA in Cross Triathlon at the 2017 ITU World Championships and participating in the XTERRA World Championship last fall, he will be able to train more intensely for the upcoming off-road triathlon season.

“It has been an honor serving hundreds of courageous victims of crime, and in some way helping them to repair their shattered lives,” Clark said. “Victim Rights Center and our many community partners serving crime victims make a difference in the lives of traumatized people. That has been a rewarding and enlightening experience.”

To help child victims of sexual assault and physical abuse, donate to the Founder’s Fund for Children by December 31, 2017: DONATE

Why Victims Need a Legal Advocate

Victim Rights Center of Connecticut (VRCCT) is dedicated to serving the needs of victims of violent crime. We do this by combining our understanding of the effects of trauma on victims with our knowledge of the many ways the legal system can help to reduce the disruptions that violence can bring to the lives of survivors. VRCCT acts as independent legal counsel sworn to protect the legal rights and best interests of the victim through a broad-based approach grounded in litigation, creative problem-solving, and extensive knowledge of the judicial system.

School Sexual Abuse

If you are a victim of sexual assault on campus, VRCCT will guide and protect you during the college discipline process, which often is demeaning and traumatic for victims. The school may be more interested in avoiding publicity than in really helping you to obtain justice. We will work with you to present your report clearly, and advise you on the obligations the school has to keep you safe, support you academically, and punish the offender.

School Sexual Abuse and Harassment

Victim Advocates, counsellors, and medical professionals are dedicated and essential resources available to victims, but they do not have the legal training to protect your privacy rights in court or to deal with employers, landlords, creditors, and schools. VRCC will aggressively defend your rights in all parts of your life, in court and outside it. We will work with you to help you keep your job, keep safe, and put the details of daily life back together. We understand your special needs and questions.

Serving LGBTO Victims of Violence

As a member of the LGBTQ community, you know that those identifying as Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgendered or Queer often face hostility or mis-understanding from those in authority. VRCCT’s attorneys understand the dynamics of gay relationships, and will defend you from discrimination, public disclosure and harassment. We can act as intermediary with police and others to be sure you are treated with the fairness and respect you deserve.

Victims Need an Attorney in Criminal Court

Public legal resources for victims are linked to the Criminal Justice process, and are available only to victims who have reported to police and who have had their cases accepted for prosecution. Prosecutors and court victim advocates care about the victims of crime, but they are unable to personally represent the victim and all the interests at stake in a court case. These government employees cannot address cyber-bullying. They cannot protect your right to keep medical, counselling, and school records out of court. They cannot keep the offender or his attorney from making details of your life public. VRCCT will fight for you to limit invasions of your privacy.

Child Abuse is Real — and Common

Child Abuse is an epidemic in our society, but one that is often discounted by those whose job it is to protect children. Studies suggest that one in five girls and one in twenty boys have been sexually abused. If child abuse affects your family, VRCCT will advise and protect you and your children during investigations by police and DCF (Department of Children and Families), and in criminal court cases. Offenders who are not arrested often seek visitation or custody of children they have abused. We will advocate for the child in family court.