CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA (NEWSPLEX) -- The Sexual Assault Advocacy Fund was launched by a University of Virginia alum in response to the now discredited Rolling Stone article about an alleged rape culture at UVa.
It is now expanding its reach to help more victims of sexual assault.
The organization has partnered with the Central Virginia Legal Aid Society to provide an attorney, Palma Pustilnik, to meet specifically with UVa students who are survivors of sexual violence.
Lisa Richey, the founder of SAAF, hopes this new partnership will be used as a model for other universities, which may make it less traumatic for survivors to face a sexual misconduct board or civil or criminal courts.
"You have someone who can be with you through the entire decision process and if you don't want to use our attorney that's great. If you don't want to use our attorney until you've talked to the school, that's fine too," said Richey. "I think the real value for folks will be people who don't know what they want to do yet and then coming and talking to Palma and seeing what their options are."
Richey says there are several benefits to having one dedicated attorney to help survivors of sexual assault compared to having a pool of attorneys.
"Palma will become much more useful in terms of the unique process that is Title IX hearings and the new procedure that UVa's put out. UVa is still learning it. They just announced the policy on March 30th, so to have the same person while that growing pain process will be really useful," said Richey.
SAAF is kicking off a campaign to raise $500,000 in order to cover the full-time hire and legal fees for the next five years.
For more information on how to donate to SAAF click the link on the side of the page.