December 4, 2014
WASHINGTON, DC – Congresswomen Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo Counties) issued the following statement on the release of a Department of Defense report on sexual assault in the military:
“This survey should be a wake-up call. These numbers are nearly identical to where the military stood in 2010 and show this issue is not imaginary: it’s real, it’s pervasive, and the offenses are even more severe than we originally thought. This epidemic will not be solved by incremental reforms. Until cases of sexual assault are taken out of the chain of command, justice will not be served and the vast majority of victims will not come forward.
“This survey was done by a third party because the Department of Defense and many of my colleagues in Congress didn’t believe these numbers – they needed yet another confirmation of what I learned from far too many survivors, that sexual assault remains a systemic problem, and the military justice system continues to fail those who come forward.
“The data shows a persistent hostile culture for survivors remains the rule, not the exception. A staggering 62% of those courageous enough to report experience retaliation. Even more troubling, the military’s rates for sexual assault related convictions declined since last year – from 5.2% in 2013 to 3.8% this year. The majority of reporting growth has been through the use of restricted reports, meaning the survivor does not feel comfortable putting their name on a report. Restricted reports do not lead to an investigation, and allow perpetrators to go unpunished.
“We cannot allow violent criminals to degrade the honor of the Armed Forces. The current system to protect survivors and punish perpetrators is broken. This report should show my colleagues in Congress, the DOD, and the President that the time to act is now.”
The report to the President, released by the DOD on December 4, concludes a one year review of practices regarding sexual assault in the military and a poll of active and non-active servicemembers conducted by RAND.
Congresswoman Speier has worked on the issue of Military Sexual Assault for 4 years. She introduced the Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention Act (STOP Act), which would take the reporting, oversight, investigation and victim care of sexual assaults out of the hands of the military’s normal chain of command and place jurisdiction in the newly created, autonomous Sexual Assault Oversight and Response Office comprised of civilian and military experts.