Lawmakers May Require Jail Time for Military Sexual Assaults

Senior officials in the military have been in the crosshairs of Congress. Over the last few weeks, hearings have been held in the House of Representatives over the military’s responses to sexual assault allegations. The hearings are ostensibly based on promises made by congressmen who saw “The Invisible War” an Oscar nominated documentary about the continuing culture facing military women.

The film followed women from multiple branches of the military who felt that their commanding officers were not responsive to their claims, or were afraid that their careers would be harmed if they reported sexual assaults.

Provisions Under The New Law:

  • Mandatory minimums – The new bill calls for a two-year mandatory minimum for members of the armed services convicted of rape or sexual assault in a military court.
  • Additional review – Decisions not to prosecute sexual assault claims (by a commanding officer) would be automatically reviewed by someone higher up in the chain of command.
  • Protections for reporting – It would be a crime to retaliate against a military member who reports a rape or sexual assault (especially by denying assignments or promotions to such a person).

The Senate and House have competing bills that will ultimately (and expectedly) have to be reconciled. For instance, the House Armed Services Committee approved part of a bill that would strip commanders of the power to overturn convictions in sex assault cases. It also called for those convicted of sexual assault to be dishonorably discharged.

We will continue to follow this story and report as details are made available.

Source: ABC, House considers jail term for military sex assault, June 13, 2013.