Protect Our Defenders News Blog


***STATEMENT*** POD, Service Women’s Action Network & Minority Veterans of America Call for Re-Examination of Pretrial Procedures by DAC-IPAD

June 9, 2023
Protect Our Defenders, Service Women’s Action Network and Minority Veterans of America Call for Re-Examination of Pretrial Procedures by DAC-IPAD

POD recommends DAC-IPAD establish a standing court with judges or magistrates serving as preliminary hearing officers in sexual assault and harassment cases

Washington, DC – Today, the Defense Advisory Committee on Investigation, Prosecution, and Defense of Sexual Assault in the Armed Forces (DAC-IPAD) released a new report outlining recommendations potentially harmful for survivors of military sexual assault and harassment. Protect Our Defenders (POD) – joined by the Service Women’s Action Network and Minority Veterans of America – sent a letter to DAC-IPAD, calling on them to revisit their recommendation that Congress amend Article 32 to make preliminary hearing officer’s general court-martial determinations binding.

POD and their allies urge DAC-IPAD to require judges or magistrates to serve as pretrial officers before making any conclusions binding given the dire need for improving the quality of sexual assault investigations as well as the professionalism and transparency of case investigators.

While reports of sexual assault increased by one percent overall in 2022, instances of unwanted sexual contact had increased exponentially when reported from the Department of Defense 2021 prevalance survey. At the same time, there is an increasing lack of trust in the military justice system. Therefore, DAC-IPAD’s recommendation to mandate often non-judges to make binding decisions as to whether a case may move to trial would profoundly contradict positive strides made to support survivors of military sexual abuse and would further erode the lack of trust that is already felt by both male and female servicemembers.

POD and our allies are committed to survivors and steadfast in our demand for accountability of abusers and a fair and equitable military justice system.

Protect Our Defenders Senior Vice President, Josh Connolly, former Chief of Staff for Rep. Jackie Speier (former Chairwoman of the Military Personnel Subcommittee on the House Armed Services Committee), released the following statement:

“Competent, thorough and timely investigations are the most pressing element to a military sexual assault or harassment prosecution. POD, advocates and survivors have worked tirelessly to bolster the integrity and validity of this investigative process in support of survivors. Progress has been made. But we have to go further. DAC-IPAD’s recommendations will potentially do more harm more than good.

“We urge DAC-IPAD to revisit their recommendations, and we look forward to hopefully working with them to better protect and support survivors in their pursuit of justice as well as investigators in their commitment to procedural integrity.”