Addressing Military’s Sexual-Assault Issues Through Legislation
At last count, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he had reviewed 10 separate bills addressing the problem of sexual assault in the military’s ranks. Here is a rundown of some of the legislation lawmakers are pushing on Capitol Hill:
Turner-Tsongas (HR 1867): Ensures those found guilty of rape, sexual assault, sodomy or an attempt to commit any of those crimes are — at a minimum — dismissed or dishonorably discharged. Eliminates the five-year statute of limitations within the military’s justice system for sexual-assault cases and expands legal assistance services available to victims.
Walorski-Sanchez (HR 1864): Provides whistle-blower protections to victims of sexual assault by strengthening existing law to protect victims who report the crime from retaliation.
Speier (HR 1593): Establishes an independent council responsible for the prosecution, reporting, oversight, investigation and victim care in military sexual-assault cases.
Ryan-Granger (HR 2002): Directs the Defense Department to provide a special victims counsel for victims of sexual assault.
Gillibrand (S 967): Removes the prosecution of all crimes punishable by one year or more in jail from the chain of command, except crimes that are uniquely military in nature. Bars commanders from overturning convictions.
McCaskill-Klobuchar (S 964): Requires a review of the training, qualifications and experience of the Defense Department personnel responsible for preventing and responding to sexual assaults.
Klobuchar-Murkowski (S 548): Establishes a preferred policy regarding the disposition of sexual-assault cases through courts martial. Prohibits anyone previously convicted of a sexual offense from serving in the military, and requires the Defense secretary to retain reports of sexual assault for at least 50 years.
Ayotte-Murray (S 871): Provides victims of sexual assault with special victims counsel and refers sexual-assault cases to the general court-martial level or to the next superior competent authority when there is a conflict of interest in the immediate chain of command.