McCaskill-Backed Bill to Close Loophole on Military Sexual Assault Reporting Passes Senate Unanimously
98-0 vote represents a ‘win for victims’ says Senator
WASHINGTON – A bipartisan plan by U.S. Senators Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.) and Richard Burr (R-N.C.) to close a legal loophole enabling sex offenders convicted under the Uniform Military Code of Justice to evade registering as sex offenders—today unanimously passed the Senate 98-0.
The legislation passed as an amendment to the Justice for Victims of Human Trafficking Act, which provides protections and resources for victims of human trafficking. In August, the Department of Defense Inspector General completed an investigation of sexual offender tracking in the military, noting the alarmingly low self-reporting rates and providing a list of suggested solutions for improving tracking.
“This is yet another win for victims, bringing us one step closer to closing a loophole that for too long has allowed some convicted sex offenders to re-enter society without properly registering,” said McCaskill, a former sex crimes prosecutor. “Tracking these criminals has to be a public safety priority, and it’s critical we give law enforcement all the tools they need to identify and monitor offenders.”
The amendment, based on the Military Sex Offender Reporting Act, will require the Department of Defense to provide the Attorney General with the necessary information to register offenders in both the FBI National Crime Information Center and the National Sex Offender public website prior to the offender’s release from a Military Corrections Facility or upon conviction if incarceration was not required. Currently, sex offenders convicted in the military justice system must self-report after release, whereas other sex offenders are reported prior to release. A recent investigation found that this loophole has enabled hundreds of convicted sex offenders to evade registering and allowed some to commit horrendous crimes again.
Over the past several years, McCaskill has won a series of sweeping reforms to the military justice system that hold both perpetrators and military commanders more accountable and better protect and empower survivors. A 2014 Pentagon report showed that the reforms have resulted in demonstrable progress, reducing the prevalence of unwanted sexual contact in the military and increasing reporting of such crimes by survivors. McCaskill was also vocal supporter of the renewal of the Violence Against Women Act, the landmark law to provide vital protections for women and families.
Visit mccaskill.senate.gov/violence to see more about McCaskill’s work to curb domestic and sexual violence.