FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
May 24, 2016
100,000 PEOPLE CALL ON PRESIDENT OBAMA TO FIX THE BROKEN MILITARY JUSTICE SYSTEM AND INVESTIGATE THE PENTAGON FOR MISLEADING CONGRESS
Survivors joined by Protect Our Defenders will attempt to deliver the petition this afternoon
Washington, D.C. – Today Samantha Jackson, a civilian victim of military sexual assault, Tailhook whistleblower Paula Coughlin, and Protect Our Defenders will attempt to deliver a petition to the White House with over 100,000 signatures launched by Samantha on Care2. The petition calls on President Obama to support an impartial military justice system and investigate the Pentagon for misleading Congress and the public about the military’s handling of sexual assault cases. Samantha’s former husband, an Army soldier, raped her and videotaped the assault but was never punished by the military after they told civilian authorities they would handle her case. The White House is refusing to accept the petition from the survivors and advocacy group.
“My treatment by the military is a profound betrayal,” said Jackson. “I do not understand how the Army could fail to hold my rapist accountable not once, but twice. I do not understand how they could allow him to remain in the military after he confessed or let him go while promising to consider reopening the case. It is inexcusable that his Army commander chose to ignore the evidence and instead relied on stereotypes and victim blaming to deny me justice.”
“It’s time for President Obama, our Commander In Chief to step up. We know he cares about this issue. Standing on the sidelines is no longer acceptable.” said Former Air Force Chief Prosecutor and Protect Our Defenders President Col Don Christensen. “Over 100,000 people have called on the President to support the creation of an independent, impartial military justice system for our troops before he leaves office. During his presidency this crisis has continued, and marginal reforms have not effectively curtailed ongoing sexual violence and retaliation against victims, who continue to be blamed and fear reporting.”
It has recently been uncovered that the Pentagon misled congress and the President on handling of sexual assault cases, and their most recent sexual assault report reveals additional attempts to rejigger numbers rather than fix the problem.
“It is now crystal clear that the Pentagon knowingly relied upon false information to mislead Congress and derail reforms they oppose,” said Col Don Christensen USAF (ret.). “Mr. President, I know you care about the men and women who serve under you, and you have promised that you have their backs. You can show it by fixing this broken system before you leave office. Mr. President, please stand with survivors like Samantha.”
Last month, an Associated Press investigation and Protect Our Defenders report exposed that the Pentagon misled Congress to block much needed reforms, claiming that military commanders are tougher on crime than prosecutors. That led survivor Samantha Jackson to launch a petition urging President Obama to enact fundamental reforms fixing the broken justice system, and investigate the Pentagon for intentionally misleading Congress and the public about its handling of sexual assault cases and before he leaves office.
The White House has made it clear that “It’s On Us” to do everything we can to address sexual violence. This includes a responsibility to stand with the service men and women who are sexually assaulted every day, instead of leaving those victims to the mercy of military commanders.
Before attempting to deliver the petition, Samantha and the Former Air Force Chief Prosecutor and Protect Our Defenders President Col Don Christensen will join a bipartisan coalition of Senators, including Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), Chuck Grassley (R-IA), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Rand Paul (R-KY), Mazie Hirono (D-HI) and Richard Blumenthal (D-CT) reintroducing the Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA) to create an impartial military justice system that puts prosecution decisions into the hands of legal experts, instead of commanders. The Senators are reintroducing MJIA after previous votes were held under the influence of false and misleading information from the Pentagon.
[EMBED VIDEO] (https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=NF-nFxwbA8U&feature=youtu.be)
VICE News: US Lawmakers Suspect the Pentagon of Lying to Them About Military Sexual Assault Cases
Associated Press: Pentagon misled lawmakers on military sexual assault cases
Debunked: Fact-Checking the Pentagon’s Claims Regarding Military Justice
VIDEO: The Pentagon’s Misleading Claims on Military Justice
Washington Post: Pentagon misled Congress about military’s handling of sexual assault cases, report says
Vox: How the Pentagon misled Congress to stop a law intended to help rape victims
New York Magazine: AP Report Says the Pentagon Misled Congress on Sexual-Assault Cases Within the Military
About Protect Our Defenders: Protect Our Defenders (POD) is a human rights organization. We are the only national organization solely dedicated to addressing the epidemic of rape and sexual assault in the military and to combating a culture of pervasive sexual harassment and retribution against victims. We honor, support and give voice to survivors of military sexual assault – including both service members and civilians assaulted by members of the military. We seek reform to ensure all survivors have access to a fair, impartially administered system of justice. 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.