Report on Military Sexual Assaults a dark stain we must confront
Armed Services Committee member and former prosecutor comments on Pentagons annual report on sexual assaults in the military
May 7, 2013
WASHINGTON - U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and former Jackson County Prosecutor, today released the following statement in response to the Pentagon's annual report on sexual assaults in the military:
"If we needed any more evidence that the military justice system needs to change to hold sexual predators accountable and protect survivors of assault, this report has provided it. These crimes are a dark stain on our armed forces that poison morale and readiness, and that must be confronted. Every single victim of sexual assault deserves justice-deserves a day in court that won't be overturned by the stroke of a pen. I intend to fight as hard as I know how to achieve that goal. I am encouraged by Secretary Hagel's announcement of new efforts to bring greater accountability to commanders and to use input from survivors in improving treatment and response, and I look forward to working with the military services to bring greater justice to survivors."
The Department of Defense released today an annual report from the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office showing that the number of reported assaults in fiscal year 2012 rose six percent to 3,374-up from 3,192 a year before-and, more surprisingly, that the estimated number of servicemembers experiencing unwanted sexual contact increased from 19,300 in FY10 to 26,000 in FY12.
The reports come the day after the Air Force officer in charge of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response was arrested outside a Virginia bar for sexual battery.
In response to a recent sexual assault case at Aviano Air Base in Italy, McCaskill grilled military leaders in several Senate hearings and has introduced legislation that would curtail the authority of military commanders to dismiss jury convictions against sex offenders. McCaskill's bill would also require written justifications when sentences are lessened or commuted.
Click HERE to read McCaskill's recent opinion column on combatting sexual assaults in the military.
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