For Immediate Release
November 7, 2013
DC – Bill Silverfarb (202) 225-3531 / (202) 957-4340 cell
CA – Katrina Rill (650) 342-0300 / (650) 208-7441 cell
WASHINGTON, D.C. - Congresswoman Jackie Speier, D- San Francisco/San Mateo, today released the following statement on the rise of military sexual assault reports after the Pentagon indicated that 3,553 complaints were made between October 2012 and June 2013, a 50 percent increase over the same period last year:
“The Pentagon figures show that for the first time ever many victims might find the justice they deserve but until we see more court martials and convictions these numbers are really just inconclusive.
“Of the more than 26,000 estimated military assaults last year just 10 percent were reported, even less of the cases went to court martial and only a tiny fraction of the offenders were actually convicted.
“The Pentagon statement simply shows that vast majority of victims still do not report their sexual assaults. They show that victims do not trust the system.
“The need to reform how the military treats these victims is needed now more than ever. That is why I will introduce bipartisan legislation to reform Article 32 hearings so that victims are provided with a judicial process that is fair with the reasonable expectation that justice will be served and that their perpetrator will stand trial, not the victims brave enough to come forward. Victims should not fear their fellow soldiers more than the enemy.
“The victims that do come forward report to a broken system, a fact I have been pointing out for years through the stories of the 26 victims whose sagas I have shared on the House floor. Those survivors brave enough to come forward have been re-victimized, however, by the system and denied justice.
In April, Speier re-introduced the Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention Act (STOP Act) that has 147 co-sponsors, 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.
“News that the reports have risen does mean that more victims are now accessing the critical health care they need but more importantly shows that the culture of rape, sodomy and other sexual assaults is still very pervasive in the military. The victims are simply reporting to a system that does not work.
“The Defense Department would rather handle these cases in-house but that often leads to the victim being treated as the criminal.
“Those bold enough now to report military sexual assaults are subjected to an Article 32 hearing – where untrained military personnel harass, intimidate and bully the victims, sometimes for up to 30 hours. They are able to ask questions that humiliate the victim which often leads to them dropping out of the process before ever making it to trial.”