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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!
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