Protect Our Defenders News Blog


April news roundup from Protect Our Defenders

Here’s your monthly digest of top news on our fight against sexual assault in the military.

New Whistleblower Legislation

  • Yesterday, Sens. Boxer, Wyden, and Markey introduced a bill to protect those who blow the whistle on military wrongdoings, including sexual abuse. “Servicemembers who bravely speak out about wrongdoing or misconduct — especially sexual assault survivors — deserve to know that they will be protected from retaliation,” Boxer said. [Defense One]
  • Rep. Speier also filed the bill as an amendment in the 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).

NPR: When Civilians Accuse Troops of Rape, Military Courts Often Decide

  • Brittany Bentz reported that she was sexually assaulted at the age of 16 by a U.S. Air Force member. As civilians, she and her mother, Melinda, were shocked by their treatment in the military legal system, reports NPR.
  • As I explained in the story: “The court martial process is unlike any other criminal process in this country. It’s confusing enough for military members who go through the process. But for a civilian who has no ties to the military, it is like entering another world.” [National Public Radio]
  • We connected NPR’s Quil Lawrence with the Bentz family and found them a lawyer through our Pro Bono Network.

Video: Air Force song book and justice reform 

  • Last month, we joined attorney Susan Burke when she announced her new lawsuit which included evidence of shockingly misogynistic Air Force songbooks.. I spoke to MSNBC about why the books are still a problem and explained how the military legal system is inherently conflicted. [MSNBC]
  • MSNBC asked me what I would tell parents whose daughters want to enter into service. My response is at the end of the video.

Madeleine Albright joins our Advisory Board

  • Two weeks ago, former U.S. Secretary of State Madeleine Albright joined POD’s Advisory Board. [Press Release]
  • Over 1,000 citizens and survivors have since signed our thank you letter to Dr. Albright. If you have not yet, add your name and a personal comment, and we’ll deliver the letter in May. [Letter]

Leader of Maryland National Guard speaks out

  • Linda Singh, the first African American woman to serve as Maryland’s adjutant general, says her experiences as a victim shape her leadership. “She hopes that publicly sharing her own experiences might help keep other victims from blaming themselves.” [Washington Post]

Sexual Assault Series wins Peabody

  • Scripps’ “Under the Radar” series investigated problems that occur when service members who are convicted of sex crimes re-enter civilian life. POD worked closely with Scripps during their investigation and last week, Scripps received a Peabody Award for the series. [Scripps]