Last week, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) voted to adopt three military sexual assault reform provisions proposed by Protect Our Defenders (POD).
The reforms include limiting the “Good Military Character” defense so that an accused rapist can no longer be found “not guilty” simply for being a good soldier; guaranteeing victims the right to appeal adverse rulings regarding the psychotherapist-patient privilege and rape shield rules, which shield victims’ past sexual history; and eliminating an exception to the psychotherapist-patient privilege rule, which military judges have routinely used as a loophole to justify turning over victims’ confidential therapy records to their alleged rapists.
These reforms will encourage more brave men and women in uniform to come forward in pursing justice against their attackers.
And in a demonstration of powerful leadership by Congresswomen Jackie Speier, Tulsi Gabbard, Tammy Duckworth and Niki Tsongas, the HASC also came just 4 votes shy of approving a bipartisan amendment, introduced by Congresswoman Speier to remove prosecution of sexual assaults from commanders and place it in the hands of experienced military prosecutors.
While we didn’t get all the votes we need, we are making serious progress. And everyone is talking about Congressman William Enyart, a former military prosecutor, staff judge advocate, and commanding General, who after deep personal deliberation and soul searching had a change of heart and voted in favor of the amendment.
Watch Rep. Enyart’s impassioned and heartfelt speech here.
We thank Rep. Enyart for his change of heart and we hope his peers follow the example he set.
Please join us in thanking Reps. Speier, Gabbard, Enyart, Gibson and the committed members in the HASC who voted to remove prosecution of sexual assaults from the chain of command. Click here to say thank you.