N.S. has new program offering free legal advice to sex assault complainants

The Nova Scotia government is introducing a new program to reduce the trauma faced by people alleging they were victims of sexual assault as their cases are dealt with by the courts.

Under the program, sexual assault complainants will be offered free legal representation when applications are made in court to have their past sexual history considered as evidence.

Provincial Justice Minister Mark Furey says Nova Scotia is among the first provinces to respond to a recent federal legislative amendment that provides complainants in sexual assault cases with the right to get this kind of help.

Furey issued a statement today saying the province wants to protect complainants from the trauma of having past relationships exposed in court.

The minister says sexual assault complainants seeking legal help will be referred to the province's Victim Services branch when an accused makes an application under Section 276 of the Criminal Code.

The province already has programs in place to provide these complainants with up to four hours of free legal advice, as well as legal representation when applications are made for medical and therapeutic records.