Rep Speier Reintroduces Bipartisan Legislation to End Epidemic of Rape and Sexual Assault in the Military; Overhaul Military Judicial System



4/17/13

Rep Speier Reintroduces Bipartisan Legislation to End Epidemic of Rape and Sexual Assault in the Military; Overhaul Military Judicial System
The STOP Act will take cases of rape and sexual assault outside the normal chain of command

WASHINGTON, DC – One half million U.S. veterans are survivors of military sexual trauma and an estimated 19,000 rapes or sexual assaults occur in the military each year though few, only 13.5 percent, are ever reported. To end the epidemic, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) is re-introducing her bold legislation, the Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention Act (STOP Act), to overhaul the way the military handles cases of rape and sexual assault.

“The epidemic of military rape and sexual assault is a damning indictment of the military judicial system’s treatment of these cases,” said Speier. “True justice demands impartiality which is absent in a system that relies on individual commanders who have no legal expertise to determine which assailants get prosecuted and which go free. Instead of commanders making decisions about guilt or innocence, no matter how senior, an independent military office of trained experts should determine how these cases are treated.”

The STOP Act would fundamentally change how sexual assault is handled in the military. This legislation takes the prosecution, reporting, oversight, investigation and victim care of sexual assaults out of the hands of the normal chain of command and places jurisdiction in the hands of an autonomous Sexual Assault Oversight and Response Office. The Office will be housed in the military and be staffed by both civilian and military personnel.  

“Victims of rape and sexual assault should not have to choose between career-ending retaliation and seeking judicial action against their attackers. In 2011, only eight percent of sexual assailants were referred to courts martial, or military court, compared with 40 percent of similar offenders prosecuted in the civilian court system. If they believed that their perpetrator would be prosecuted, convicted, and punished, it would be worth it to come forward,” said Speier.

 “The way to end the epidemic of rape in the military is with more prosecutions; until that happens nothing will change. The STOP Act creates the fair judicial system that our service members deserve, one that relies on the facts of the case not the whims of a commander,” concluded Speier.

The STOP Act has the bipartisan support of 83 co-sponors and the national advocacy groups Protect Our Defenders, American Association of University Women, National Council of Jewish Women, Feminist Majority, and the makers and followers of the documentary Service: When Women Come Marching Home.

Statements of support will be available on the Congresswoman’s website.

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