Military Sexual Assault
Military Sexual Assault (MSA) Legislation
Sexual Assault in the Military
Begich Echoes Support for Military Sexual Assault Bill to Air Force General as reported by Senator Begich’s Office, Press Release
U.S. Sen. Mark Begich today met with Maj. Gen. Margaret Woodward, the Director of the Air Force’s Sexual Assault, Prevention and Response Office, to discuss steps the Air Force is taking to reduce sexual assault in the military and what improvements can be made to create a safe environment for our servicemen and women.
Begich Disappointed Provisitions to Prosecute Sexual Assault Criminals in the Military are Watered Down as reported by Senator Begich’s Office, Press Release
U.S. Sen. Mark Begich today expressed disappointment that stronger measures to combat military sexual assault were stripped from the National Defense Authorization Act for Fiscal Year 2014 that is currently being reviewed by the Senate Armed Service Committee.
Pentagon: Men are victims in most military sexual assaults as reported by Alaska Daily News
Sexual assault has emerged as one of the defining issues for the military this year. Reports of assaults are up, as are questions about whether commanders have taken the problem seriously. Bills to toughen penalties and prosecution have been introduced in Congress.
Why Military Legal System Seems Stacked Against Sexual Assault Victims as reported by Anna Mulrine
For Myla Haider, working as a criminal investigator prosecuting rape cases for the US Army was difficult and often disheartening.
UPDATE: The National Task to End Sexual and Domestic Violence Against Women will be asking that Senator Gillibrand’s Military Justice Improvement Act, S. 967, be adopted when the Senate takes up the National Defense Authorization Act in the weeks ahead. Important reforms are included in this amendment including removing the decision to prosecute from the “chain of command” and placing it with high-ranking experienced and independent military prosecutors.
The issue of military sexual assault has taken center stage in D.C. with several important pieces of legislation being considered by Congress. Both Senators Murkowski and Begich are co-sponsors of these bills and have been very vocal advocates of the critical need to protect military members from sexual violence. Provisions of several pieces of legislation including Combating Military Sexual Assault and the Military Justice Improvement Act of 2013 have been rolled into the DoD’s appropriations bill: S. 1034/H.R.1960 – National Defense Authorization Act of 2014.
Key provisions would:
- Provide all victims of sexual assault with Special Victims’ Counsel – a military lawyer who assists victims throughout the process. Earlier this year the Air Force launched the Special Victims’ Counsel Program to provide legal counsel to all sexual assault victims. The goal of the program is to help victims understand their rights throughout any criminal proceeding and ensure victims get the assistance they need to recover from the crime. OVC is assisting with implementation of this program;
- Enhance the responsibilities and authority of DoD’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office so that it can better oversee efforts to combat military sexual assault across the Armed Forces and regularly track and report on a range of MSA statistics, including assault rate, number of cases brought to trial, and compliance with appropriate laws and regulations within each of the individual services;
- Refer cases to the general court martial level when sexual assault charges are filed or to the next superior competent authority where there is a conflict of interest in the immediate chain of command;
- Bar sexual contact between instructors and trainees during and within 30 days of completion of basic training or its equivalent.
Removed during the Senate Armed Services Committee amendment process were provisions to:
- Strengthen prosecution of sexual assault crimes in the military by taking away the authority of commanders to overturn or lessen-court-martial verdicts in sexual assault cases;
- Require justifications for changes in court-martial sentences by a commander;
- Remove the military chain-of-command from determining whether sexual assault cases are prosecuted.
The bill has a long way to go and will undergo more amendments in the process. Updates will be provided as they become available.
S. 294 – Ruth Moore Act of 2013
This legislation would make disability benefits available for women veterans if they are suffering PTSD or depression following a military-related sexual assault.
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