For Immediate Release: March 27th, 2014
Bill to Change How the Military Handles Sexual Assault Cases Heads to a Vote
JUNEAU – A resolution to change the way the military handles allegations of sexual assault passed the Senate Judiciary committee and is on its way to the Senate floor.
Senate Joint Resolution 20, by Senator Bill Wielechowski (D-Anchorage), calls for Congress to reform the military justice system by allowing sexual assault cases to be handled by high ranking and experienced military prosecutors. This would remove these cases from the direct chain of command, increase confidentiality, and reduce the risk of retaliation towards the victims. The resolution also calls for services to be extended to members of the National Guard and reserves who have been victims of military sexual assault.
According to the Department of Defense survey on Sexual Assault in the Military, there are an estimated 26,000 cases of sexual assault annually. Of these cases, less than one percent result in convictions. In addition, 62 percent of victims report they experience retaliation for reporting cases of sexual assault.
“This bill will help ensure that victims receive the justice they deserve,” said Sen. Wielechowski. “This reform is supported by many veterans and women’s organizations and by numerous retired members of the military.”
According to the Department of Defense Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military:
- There were an estimated 26,000 cases of unwanted sexual contact in 2012, a 37 percent increase from 2011.
- 25 percent of women and 27 percent of men who received unwanted sexual contact indicated the offender was someone in their military chain of command.
- Half of female victims stated they did not report the crime because they believed that nothing would be done with their report.
- Of the 3,374 total reports in 2012,
- 2558 were actionable:
- 27 percent for rape
- 25 percent for abusive and wrongful sexual contact
- 28 percent for aggravated sexual assault and sexual assault
- 20 percent for aggravated sexual contact, nonconsensual sodomy, indecent assault and attempts to commit those offenses.
- 74 percent of females and 60 percent of males perceived one or more barriers to reporting sexual assault.
- 62 percent of victims who reported sexual assault indicated they received some form of professional, social, and/or administrative retaliation.
For more information contact Senator Wielechowski at (907) 465-2435.