Protect Our Defenders Presents Before Congressional Panel on Epidemic of Military Sexual Assault; Calls for Independent and Impartial Justice System

*Embargoed remarks from Protect Our Defenders President Nancy Parrish and Policy Advisor Miranda Petersen are available. If you would like a copy — please contact me at

November 6, 2013 
Contact: Brian Purchia, (202) 253-(202) 253-4330,


Protect Our Defenders President, Policy Director to present with survivors at military sexual assault prevention panel; Call for fundamental reform to the way the military handles rape and sexual assault cases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – This Thursday, November 7th the congressionally mandated Response Systems To Adult Sexual Assault Crimes Panel will hold a hearing on the epidemic of military sexual assault. The panel is currently conducting a review of the military justice system and how it investigates, prosecutes and adjudicates these violent crimes.

Protect Our Defenders President, Nancy Parrish, Policy Director Miranda Petersen, And survivors Brian Lewis and BriGette McCoy will present before the panel and call for an end to commanders’ unfettered authority over the legal aspects of military justice. Protect Our Defenders supports an independent and impartial military justice system by removing the decision making of sexual assault cases from an often-bias chain of command. Nothing less will end the damaging cycle of scandals.

Earlier this year, POD President Nancy Parrish testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee on the epidemic of military sexual assault. Brian Lewis, who also testified this past March, was the first male sexual assault survivor to share his story at a Senate hearing. Brian testified alongside BriGette McCoy, who was recently featured in the PBS documentary film “Service: When Women Come Marching Home.”

Pentagon officials have furiously objected to the creation of an independent and impartial justice system, saying it will negatively impact “good order and discipline,” even though there is no evidence of this from our many allies with similar systems.

Last month, the director-general of the Australian Defence Force Legal Service, Paul Cronan, testified in front of the same panel at another hearing on the epidemic. He said that Australia had faced the same set of arguments from military leaders in the past.

“It’s a little bit like when we opened up [to] gays in military in the late ’80s,” Cronan said. “There was a lot of concern at that time that there’d be issues. But not surprisingly, there haven’t been any.”

According to the Pentagon’s 2012 SAPRO report, 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.

The hearing will take place on Thursday, November 7 and Friday, November 8. Nancy Parrish & Miranda Petersen will testify between 2:30-4:30 PM ET on November 7. Brian Lewis and Brigette McCoy will testify between 8:30-10:00 AM ET on November 8.

*If you would like to speak with them or receive their embargoed remarks, email –

WHAT:            Response Systems To Adult Sexual Assault Crimes Panel

WHO: Nancy Parrish, Protect Our Defenders President; Miranda Petersen, Policy Director; Brian Lewis and BriGette McCoy, Protect Our Defenders Member and Survivor

WHEN:            Thursday November 7, and Friday, November 8

WHERE:         U.S. District Court for the District of Columbia

333 Constitution Avenue, NW

Courtroom #20, 6th Floor

Washington, DC  20001

Protect Our Defenders 2013 Media Report

Politico: Air Force lawyers draw fire over sexual assault policy

Military Times: Pentagon advisory panel: Strip commanders’ ability to prosecute sexual assaults

San Antonio Express-News: Hagel misses important opportunity

Politico: Chuck Hagel’s sexual assault panel may be too late

Air Force Times: Fear of retaliation: The culture that prevents airmen from speaking up

New York Times: Intrusive Grilling in Rape Case Raises Alarm on Military Hearings

Baltimore Sun: The Naval Academy sex assault hearing should be the last of its kind,0,3728710.story

Associated Press: Rape Victim: Retaliation Prevalent in Military

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 or on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter at