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Got consent?

Team V Airmen sit in the jury box and listen to evidence presented during a mock court martial March 13, 2015, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The mock court martial is part of a program called ‘Got Consent?’, which is designed to raise awareness about sexual assault and the legal repercussions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ian Dudley/Released)

Team V Airmen sit in the jury box and listen to evidence presented during a mock court martial March 13, 2015, Vandenberg Air Force Base, Calif. The mock court martial is part of a program called ‘Got Consent?’, which is designed to raise awareness about sexual assault and the legal repercussions. (U.S. Air Force photo by Airman 1st Class Ian Dudley/Released)

VANDENBERG AIR FORCE BASE, Calif. -- With the Air Force's continued efforts to combat sexual assault, Vandenberg has created a program specifically aimed at educating new Airmen.

The program, called 'Got Consent?', takes first term Airmen through a court martial from the perspective of the jury. Airmen are presented with reenacted testimonies based upon a previous sexual assault case and, as a jury, must decide whether the Airman on trial is guilty or not.

"The program helps explain sexual assault in a different way, and exposes our young Airmen to the court martial process," said Lt. Col. Sheri Jones, 30th Space Wing staff judge advocate.

The mock jury is encouraged to sort through all the evidence presented, and listen to both arguments carefully before reaching their verdict.

"We sit in here and tell them, 'this is a real court martial, this actually happened and now you have to make a decision as members of this court,'" said Staff Sgt. Stephen Jardine, 30th SW paralegal.

Due to the nature of the case and evidence, the vote can swing either way depending on each Airman's background, emphasizing how tough sexual assault cases can be.
"This mock trial demonstrated just how difficult these cases can be," said Senior Airman Christian Wagner, 30th Comptroller Squadron relocations technician. "Our jury vote was halfway split on this, because of the wording and because of peoples' personal beliefs."

By judging another individual, Airmen can visualize themselves as both the victim and the accused, which allows them to reflect on how difficult the truth can be to uncover. 

"It's an awesome program to sit and watch," said Jardine. "You can see their minds go back and forth as the counselors make their arguments. They are forced to make a determination based on their common sense and the law. They have to determine, fictionally, another Airman's fate and I think that actually weighs on them as well."

By taking an innovative approach, the program does more than educate, it gives Airmen an understanding of how fluid the law can be in a court room.

"It's about prevention and it's about education and understanding," said Jones. "It makes it real to us. It allows us to see ourselves in the situation and helps us understand that the law isn't black and white, it's grey."