The University of North Florida’s Women’s Center and Department of Criminology and Criminal Justice are staging a mock rape trial at 7 p.m. April 10.
Assistant State Attorney Terence Martin said the goal is to educate students on the process of going to trial and to show them how the system works in Jacksonville.
The mock trial is designed to teach students what to expect from the first responding officer, inform students on victim advocates that are available to them and show the victim that the process can work, Martin said.
UNF students will act out fictional roles about one woman’s story of her alleged sexual violation, according to a press release from the university. The mock trial will be staged at the Andrew A. Robinson Jr. Theater, Building 14A, and the event is free and open to the public.
The trial will look at a date rape scenario, something the students can relate to, said Martin, who is also division chief of the Special Assault Division for the 4th Judicial Court.
Last semester at UNF, a student falsified a police report by reporting that she was sexually assaulted on Aug. 21 in the UNF Wellness Complex. After it became clear that the report was false, the student was prosecuted, Martin said.
Martin will lead the defense team with Aaron Feuer, assistant state attorney in the 4th Judicial Circuit assigned to the domestic violence unit.
Coreylyn Crawford, assistant state attorney in the 4th Judicial Circuit assigned to the domestic violence unit, and Anna Hixon, assistant state attorney in the 4th Judicial Circuit, will lead the prosecution team, according to the press release.
The students will play the roles of the victim, accused perpetrator, prosecution, defense, jury and crime lab teams, Martin said.
Adding to the realistic depiction of the trial, the jury will be randomly selected from the audience, according to the press release. The trial also will include forensic scientist, Marcella “Marcie” Scott, and attorney Jay Howell as the moderator.
Because of the high number of sex crimes in Jacksonville, Martin said he and his colleagues stay busy. The majority of sexual assault cases are known parties where someone takes advantage and violates a trust, or a familial situation in terms of minors, Martin said.
April is also Sexual Assault Awareness Month. A nationally recognized month, the goal is to raise public awareness about sexual violence and to educate communities and individuals on how to prevent sexual violence, according to the National Sexual Violence Resource Center.
This year’s theme is “It’s Time ... to Talk About It! Talk Early, talk often. Prevent Sexual Violence,” according to the JAX Chamber. There is a Community Speak-Out at 10 a.m. April 4 in Hemming Plaza to kick off the 2013 campaign to focus on healthy sexuality and child sexual abuse prevention.
Martin said Mayor Alvin Brown will read the proclamation, and a surviving sexual assault victim might speak.