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FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 5, 2014 Contact: Brian Purchia, firstname.lastname@example.org
*** MEDIA ADVISORY ***
PROTECT OUR DEFENDERS TO JOIN SENATOR KIRSTEN GILLIBRAND FOR PRESS CONFERENCE, CALL ON SENATE TO SUPPORT COMMON SENSE LEGISLATION TO FIGHT EPIDEMIC OF SEXUAL ASSAULT IN THE MILITARY
Senator Gillibrand Will Be Joined By Protect Our Defenders Board Member and Tailhook Whistleblower Paula Coughlin and POD Advocacy Committee Member and Veteran Stacey Thompson, a Survivor of Military Sexual Assault
Washington DC – On Thursday, February 6, at 11:30 AM E.T., U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) will hold a press conference to discuss her bipartisan Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA). The legislation would remove the decision to prosecute rape and sexual assault cases from a conflicted and often-biased chain of command, and put it into the hands of independent prosecutors. This common sense effort has 53 senators publicly supporting the bill.
At the event, Tailhook whistleblower, Paula Coughlin, and Marine Corps veteran, Stacey Thompson, will join Senator Gillibrand and others in support of MJIA. Both Paula and Stacey are military veterans, sexual assault survivors, and members of Protect Our Defenders.
Last year, Stacey joined Senator (and MJIA co-sponsor) Barbara Boxer (D-CA) in Los Angeles to share her story for the first time. The retired Marine was stationed in Okinawa, Japan when she was assaulted by her commanding officer. Meanwhile, Paula has been leading Protect Our Defenders grassroots “Educate Your State” campaign. The initiative has organized over 400 survivors who have met with, called or written their elected officials in support of the MJIA.
According to the Pentagon’s own 2012 SAPRO report, 50 % of victims state the perpetrator was of higher rank and 25% of victims indicated the offender is someone in their chain of command. Fifty percent of female victims stated they did not report the crime because they believed nothing would be done. Of those few who did report – 62% stated they were retaliated against. In 2012 alone, an estimated 26,000 men and women in the military experienced rape, sexual assault and other sex crimes.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY)
Paula Coughlin, Former Lieutenant, U.S. Navy, Member, Board of Directors, Protect Our Defenders
Stacey Thompson, Retired Lance Corporal, U.S. Marines, Advocacy Committee Member, Protect Our Defenders
Thursday, February 6, 2014
11:30 AM ET
Russell Senate Office Building
Washington, DC 20510
*If you would like to receive an embargoed copy of Paula Coughlin and Stacey Thompson’s remarks or speak with them, please email: email@example.com
MSNBC: Sen. Kristen Gillibrand ‘hopeful’ for military sexual assault bill
Washington Post: Pentagon investigations point to military system that promotes abusive leaders
Washington Post: Military brass, behaving badly: Files detail a spate of misconduct dogging armed forces
National Journal: Why the Senate May Do Nothing About Sexual Assaults in the Military
New York Times: Revisiting the Military’s Tailhook Scandal
Huffington Post: It Is Time to Change the Culture of the Military and Change Attitudes About Sexual Assault
Associated Press: Stacey Thompson, Military Rape Victim, Says Retaliation Prevalent For Those Who Speak Out
Bloomberg News: Marine Says Her Rapist Went Free as Senator Demands a Crackdown
Orange County Register: For Marine, sexual assault was a career killer
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, of Katz, Marshall & Banks LLP 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.