FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
December 1, 2014 Contact: Brian Purchia, firstname.lastname@example.org
*** MEDIA ADVISORY ***
FORMER AIR FORCE CHIEF PROSECUTOR TO JOIN SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND FOR PRESS CONFERENCE, CALLS ON THE PRESIDENT AND CONGRESS TO SUPPORT LEGISLATION TO FIX BROKEN MILITARY “JUSTICE” SYSTEM
Senator Gillibrand Will Be Joined By Protect Our Defenders New President and Former Air Force Chief Prosecutor Colonel Don Christensen (Ret.) For First Public Remarks; Calls for Fundamental Reform; Asks President Obama To Take A Stand And Declare His Support For Military Justice Reform
Washington DC – On Tuesday, December 2, at 10:00 AM E.T., U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) will hold a press conference to discuss her bipartisan Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA) with Susan Collins (R-ME), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Richard Blumenthal (D-CT), Ted Cruz (R-TX), Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Rand Paul (R-KY). The legislation would remove the decision to prosecute major felonies, including rape and sexual assault, from the conflicted and often-biased chain of command, and put it in the hands of professionally trained, independent prosecutors. Senator Gillibrand is leading a bipartisan coalition of Senators to reintroduce and pass MJIA as part of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which is expected to be voted on in December.
At the event, former Air Force Chief Prosecutor Colonel Don Christensen (Ret.), will join Senator Gillibrand and others in support of MJIA. This will be Col Christensen’s first media appearance since announcing in a New York Times Magazine cover story that he has left the Air Force after 23 years to become President of Protect Our Defenders (POD). Having served 21 years as an U.S. Air Force JAG, four as the Chief Prosecutor—the longest tenure for anyone in that position—as well as a defense attorney and a judge in a number of high profile cases, Col Christensen brings a unique perspective to the ongoing sexual assault crisis in the military, and has witnessed first hand the failures of the military justice system.
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
U.S. Senator Susan Collins (R-ME)
U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA)
U.S. Senator Chuck Grassley (R-IA)
U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-CT)
U.S. Senator Ted Cruz (R-TX)
U.S. Senator Mazie Hirono (D-HI)
U.S. Senator Rand Paul (R-KY)
Don Christensen, Retired Colonel and Former Chief Prosecutor, U.S. Air Force, President, Protect Our Defenders
Tuesday, December 2, 2014
10:00 AM ET
SV Room 215
Currently the boss of a victim’s rapist decides whether a case should go to trial, what the charges will be and who will sit on the jury. Survivors are asking that legally trained prosecutors decide whether rape cases go to trial and for randomly assigned juries — the same legal protections to which their civilian counterparts are entitled. Most service members faced personal or administrative retaliation for reporting their sexual assaults and many involuntarily left the service with their careers ruined
Earlier this year, the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, General Martin Dempsey told the nation on PBS NewsHour, “A majority of the Senate of the United States expressed a lack of confidence in our ability to solve this ourselves…we are currently on the clock if you will…the President of the United States said to us in December, you know what, you’ve got about a year to review this thing and show me you can make a difference… we understand that just because Senator Gillibrand’s vote was defeated yesterday doesn’t mean that a year from now it may not be reintroduced and if we haven’t been able to demonstrate we’re making a difference, you know, then we deserve to be held to the scrutiny and standard.”
The American public has been shocked by countless military sexual assault scandals in 2014 from an Associated Press investigation that exposed rapists receiving no punishment and commanders failing to prosecute sexual assault cases at U.S. Military bases in Japan; up to and including recent scandals at Fort Leonard Wood, and the Air Force Academy. Protect Our Defenders has called on President Obama to make good on his commitment to victims and support Senator Gillibrand’s Military Justice Improvement Act, which would create an independent and impartial military justice system.
Former Air Force Chief Prosecutor Colonel Don Christensen (Ret.) For First Public Remarks:
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New York Times: The Military’s Rough Justice on Sexual Assault
Yahoo News: Former chief Air Force prosecutor ‘outraged’ by military’s handling of sexual-assault cases
PRESS RELEASE: Former Air Force Chief Prosecutor Colonel Don Christensen (Ret.) Named President of Protect Our Defenders
Stars and Stripes: Top prosecutor leaves Air Force to reform military justice system
Air Force Times: AF chief prosecutor leaves service for victims advocacy group
[VIDEO] NBC News: Woman in Air Force sexual assault case speaks out
Associated Press: Documents reveal chaotic military sex-abuse record
St. Louis Post-Dispatch: Former drill sergeant found guilty in sexual misconduct case at Fort Leonard Wood
ABC News: Air Force Cadet’s Secret Story: I Blew the Whistle on Football Players and Sex Assaults
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.