FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 12, 2015
*** STATEMENT ***
PROTECT OUR DEFENDERS APPLAUDS CONGRESSWOMAN JACKIE SPEIER FOR PROTECTING THE AMERICAN PUBLIC FROM THOSE CONVICTED OF RAPE AND SEXUAL ASSAULT WHILE SERVING IN THE MILITARY
Washington DC – Today at a press conference on Capitol Hill, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-CA) introduced the Military Track, Register and Alert Communities Act of 2015 (Military TRAC Act) with Congressman Mike Coffman (R-CO) and Protect Our Defenders President Colonel Don Christensen. This legislation would close a loophole that allows those convicted of rape and sexual assault in the military to return to civilian life without having to register as a sex offender. Currently, it is up to them to self-register. Rep. Speier’s bill would require soldiers convicted of sex crimes to be fingerprinted, have their DNA taken and their name added to the national sex offender registry before being released from military prison.
A Scripps News investigation recently discovered at least 242 military sex offenders have gone under the radar, disappearing into neighborhoods across the country and, in some cases, have gone on to prey again and again. In 2006, Jeremy Goulet was court-martialed for raping two military officers while serving in the Army. The charges against Goulet were eventually dropped under a plea deal. In February 2013, after leaving the Army, Goulet shot and killed two Santa Cruz, CA police officers that were investigating him for new sexual assault allegations.
While speaking at the slain officers’ funeral, former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said, “We do know that [Goulet] had a history of sexual violence both in and out of the military. And for whatever reason, people somehow always looked the other way.”
Today, Protect Our Defenders President, Don Christensen, Colonel (ret.) USAF released the following statement:
“We applaud Congresswoman Speier for introducing legislation that will make our communities safer and our military stronger. Inexplicably, the United States military lacks the authority to require service members who have been convicted of rape or sexual assault to register as sex offenders. Instead, the Pentagon relies on an “honor system,” leaving it up to convicted rapists to register themselves after leaving the military.
“This is a national security issue. Because the military doesn’t track sex offenders within the ranks, American citizens have been assaulted, raped and even killed because these perpetrators are able to operate in our society without notice.
“We also thank Rep. Speier for continuing to stand with victims and giving a voice to the countless survivors who suffer from the epidemic of rape and sexual assault in the military.”
Scripps News: Convicted military sex offenders slide under the public radar and claim more victims
San Jose Mercury News: Leon Panetta: Military ‘looked the other way’ in case of Jeremy Goulet, and Santa Cruz officers paid the price
WXIA: Loophole allows sex offenders to evade registration
About Protect Our Defenders: Protect Our Defenders is a human rights organization. We seek to honor, support and give voice to the brave women and men in uniform who have been sexually assaulted while serving their country, and re-victimized by the military adjudication system – a system that often blames the victim and fails to prosecute the perpetrator. Learn more about Protect Our Defenders at www.protectourdefenders.com or on Facebook at http://facebook.com/ProtectOurDefenders or follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ProtectRDfnders.
Protect Our Defenders partners with Attorney Susan Burke, Burke PLLC to advance lawsuits filed against the DoD and service academies for repeatedly ignoring rape, sexual assault and harassment, failing to prosecute perpetrators and retaliating against the victim.