The Alleghany Highlands Victim/Witness Assistance Program is excited to announce further expansions of both a third county and a fourth staff member.  

On July 1, 2016, this program acquired the funding to provide full victim services to the residents of Bath County.  

Then, on July 1, 2018, the program acquired an award of additional funding to provide victim services to the residents of Highland County.  

This expansion into Highland County has been in the process for some time now, and makes this program the only regional Victim/Witness Assistance Program in the commonwealth of Virginia.   

AHVWAP now serves Alleghany, Bath and Highland counties, which includes the city of Covington and towns of Clifton Forge and Iron Gate.  

The main office for this program is located in the basement of the Alleghany County Courthouse, and is preparing to open a satellite office in Bath County that is being graciously supplied by Sheriff Plecker of the Bath County Sheriff’s Office. 

This program is funded by an ongoing grant through the Virginia Department of Criminal Justice Services, is administered by the County of Alleghany, and is managed through the Alleghany County Commonwealths’ Attorney’s Office.  

This staff works closely with all court officials, law enforcement and community agencies with identified victims.  This program can also assist witnesses of crime.

The program is designed to advocate for victim’s legislated rights according to the Crime Victim’s and Witness Rights Act (Code of Virginia §19.2-11.01).  

To name only a few of these rights: protection from threats and harm arising from prosecution efforts; defendant/inmate status updates; separate waiting area during court proceedings; when practical, advanced notice and right to watch all judicial proceedings relating to their case; courtroom assistance which includes protection of victim’s confidentiality, explanation of procedures, closed preliminary hearings for juvenile victims of certain cases, and the right to enter a Victim Impact Statement in felony cases; awareness of available community financial assistance; right to file for criminal restitution; right to file claim with the Virginia Victims’ Fund for monetary compensation; and more.      

Criminal offenses include, but are certainly not limited to: homicide; physical threat; assault; acts of domestic violence; sexual assault; stalking; child or elder abuse; arson; identity theft; larceny; and destruction of property.    

The staff of the AHVWAP are here to provide direct services to victims such as by assisting victims in knowing their rights and options, awareness of all emergency service providers, assist in the court protective order process, crisis intervention, referrals to other victim service providers including for confidential and protected housing, referrals for counselling, completing of various forms, pre/post trial notifications, offer emotional support and more.

The primary mission for the AHVWAP is to provide direct services defined as those efforts that respond to the physical and emotional needs of victims of crime, assist to stabilize their lives after victimization, assist them to understand and participate in the criminal justice system, and to provide them with information and referrals for services throughout.   

If you have been the victim of a crime please call the AHVWAP at 540.965.6366 to inquire on which services are available to you.  

This program is also available to civic organizations and community groups to speak in detail of all the services they provide.  

Staff members with the Alleghany Highlands Victim/Witness Assistance Program are Director Lesia Wheeler, Assistant Director Amber King, Program Specialist Ashly Morris and Crime Victim Advocate Alexis Ballard.   

Lesia Wheeler

Lesia began her career working as a secretary in the law firm of St. Clair, Alderson & Stein in the spring of 1985.  

In January of 1988, she was hired as the administrative assistant for the Alleghany County Commonwealths’ Attorney’s Office, where she remained for 28 years.  

In July of 2016 she joined the staff of the Alleghany Highlands Victim/Witness Assistance Program, and has now accepted the position as Director.  

Lesia came to victim service with an extensive knowledge of the criminal justice system, and court proceedings.  

She participates with several community organizations with a goal of gaining positive community awareness and further victim resources. 

Lesia has an associate degree in both general studies and education from Dabney S. Lancaster Community College, and a bachelors’ degree in psychology from Mary Baldwin College.  Lesia has two grown sons Mathew (wife Brittany) and Brady Seldomridge, and two step-daughters Amanda and Emily Wheeler.  

She lives in the Callaghan area of Alleghany County with her husband Paul, and is an active member of the United Baptist Church of Ogles Creek church.   

Amber King

Amber King joined the program on October 1, 2018, as Assistant Director. 

She is an Alleghany County native and graduated from Concord University in 1995 with a bachelor’s degree in Psychology. 

After graduation she lived in Charlotte, N.C. and Atlanta, Ga.  

Her professional career at that time included employment as a corporate paralegal and in private investigations.  

She moved back to the Alleghany Highlands in 2010 and began working in Child Protective Services.

While in that position, she garnered extensive experience in Juvenile & Domestic Relations Court and cultivated professional relationships with court staff, the Commonwealth Attorney's office, law enforcement and other community partners.  She was promoted to Senior Worker and eventually Supervisor during her tenure. 

During her 8½ years at social services, she provided mandated reporter training to community agencies and schools and she was chosen by the regional CPS consultant to be on the state CPS Policy Advisory Committee and the regional Child Fatality Review Team.  Amber looks forward to continued work in assisting the citizens of the Alleghany Highlands.

Ashly Morris

Ashly Morris recently joined the Alleghany Highlands Victim/Witness Assistance Program team in March 2019 as the Program Specialist.  

Ashly brings with her almost 10 years of experience in human services with an extensive background in the field of domestic and sexual violence.  

Prior to joining our team, Ashly held the position of Outreach Coordinator at Safehome Systems, the local domestic and sexual violence agency, for 5 years.  

She is currently the chair-person of CAPP (Community Alternatives for Positive Prevention), a local organization designed to identify community needs in the Alleghany Highlands in an effort to provide prevention alternatives for all residents. 

Ashly also holds many certifications for extensive training in domestic, dating and sexual violence, stalking, human trafficking and elder abuse. 

Ashly has a Bachelor’s Degree in Communication Studies from Bridgewater College. 

Ashly is the daughter of Gary and Kathy Beveridge of Roanoke and the late Richard Reynolds.  

She is an Alleghany County native, having grown up in Falling Spring, and currently resides in Covington with her husband, John and two young sons, Brady and Keaton.  

Ashly looks forward to providing continued advocacy in the Alleghany Highlands along with awareness and education on crime victim's right through outreach with the Alleghany Highlands Victim/Witness Assistance Program.
   
Alexis Ballard

Alexis just recently accepted the part-time position of Crime Victim Advocate.  

She is an administrative support team member, and is eager to learn victim services.  

Alexis has an associate degree in education from Dabney S. Lancaster Community College and is currently attending the Mary Baldwin College Adult Degree Program as an education major.  

She is the daughter of Kevin and Deanna Hall, and resides in Alleghany County.  

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

The Alleghany Highlands Victim/Witness Assistance Program has announced recent expansions, in both staffing and counties covered. Now, the program serves Alleghany, Bath and Highland counties, the city of Covington and the towns of Clifton Forge and Iron Gate. Pictured above, from left, Interim Alleghany County Commonwealth’s Attorney Ann Gardner, Crime Victim Advocate Alexis Ballard, Program Specialist Ashly Morris, Assistant Director Amber King and Director Lesia Wheeler. (Photo Courtesy Alleghany Highlands Victim/Assistance Program)