Washington, D.C. – On Tuesday, October 13th, the Supreme Court will hear US v. Briggs, an appeal from the Justice Department to review a military court decision that led to overturning multiple rape convictions based on a court-created five-year statute of limitations for rapes in the military committed between 1986 and 2006. For thirty-two years, military courts operated under no time constraint for the prosecution of rape until the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) reversed long standing precedent with US v. Mangahas in 2018. This will be the first time the Supreme Court addresses a sexual assault issue in the #MeToo era. In recent months, public attention has turned to the epidemic of military sexual assault following the tragic murder of Vanessa Guillen.
Harmony Allen, one of three survivors whose rapist was freed by the CAAF’s highly flawed ruling and who successfully brought their cases before the Supreme Court, will listen to the hearing from our nation’s capital as she continues her fight for justice and to support all survivors of military sexual assault. Harmony will be joined by Col. Don Christensen (ret.), the former Chief Prosecutor of the United States Air Force and President of Protect Our Defenders, the organization that assisted Harmony in filing an amicus curiae brief before the Supreme Court. At the start of 2020, Harmony led a national campaign alongside Protect Our Defenders asking presidential candidates to commit to military justice reform, the vast majority of whom signed on, including Democratic Nominee Joe Biden.
Col. Don Christensen (ret.), the former Chief Prosecutor of the United State Air Force and President of Protect Our Defenders, released the following statement:
“Multiple rapists have been set free or had pending charges dismissed because of this ruling and, if the ruling stands, countless more survivors of rape will be denied access to justice. The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces’ decision to ignore Congress’ clear intent and 30 years of precedent in US v. Mangahas has been devastating to survivors who have seen their rapist freed.
“The Supreme Court’s decision to review a case on military sexual assault is the culmination of years of relentless effort by survivors like Harmony advocating for justice. The Supreme Court has the power to restore justice to victims whose rapists were properly convicted at court-martial — I hope they make the right choice. Their decision will have a profound effect on addressing the culture of rape and sexual assault in the military moving forward.”
Who: Colonel Don Christensen (ret.), Harmony Allen
What: Supreme Court Hearing – US v. Briggs
When: Tuesday, October 13th, 2020 at 10:00 AM – 12:00 PM EST
Where: Due to COVID-19 restrictions, the Supreme Court is closed to the public. Please visit one of the livestream links to listen to the hearing.
CNN: Supreme Court to take up military rape cases: https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/15/politics/supreme-court-military-rape-case/index.html
CNN: Her rapist was convicted and jailed by a military court. Two years later, he was freed: https://www.cnn.com/2019/05/14/politics/harmony-allen-military-sexual-assault/index.html
CNN: Democratic candidates back plan to change how military investigates sexual assault allegations: https://www.cnn.com/2020/01/28/politics/2020-democrats-military-sexual-assault/index.html
United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces: US v. Mangahas: http://cdn.cnn.com/cnn/2019/images/07/29/mangahas.opinion.pdf
About Protect Our Defenders: Protect Our Defenders (POD) is a human rights organization. We are the only national organization solely dedicated to ending the epidemic of rape and sexual assault in the military and to combating a culture of pervasive misogyny, sexual harassment and retribution against victims. We honor, support and give voice to survivors of military sexual assault and harassment – including service members, veterans and civilians assaulted by members of the military. We seek reform to ensure all survivors are provided a safe, respectful work environment and have access to a fair, impartially administered system of justice. Like us on Facebook at http://facebook.com/ProtectOurDefenders or follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ProtectRDfnders