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***STATEMENT*** PROTECT OUR DEFENDERS PRESIDENT COL DON CHRISTENSEN (RET.) CALLS ON PENTAGON TO EMPOWER MILITARY PROSECUTORS OR TURN SEXUAL ASSAULT CASES TO CIVILIAN JUSTICE SYSTEMS AT CONGRESSIONAL HEARING

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
February 13, 2019

Washington, D.C. — Today, the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee (watch live here) held a hearing on the results of the Sexual Assault and Violence Report at the Military Services Academies. The report published last month by the Department of Defense (DOD), showed a 47% increase in military academy sexual assault cases since the same report was last released in 2017 and a failure on behalf of military leadership to address the worsening problem at hand. At the hearing, Col. Don Christensen (ret.), the former Chief Prosecutor of the United State Air Force and President of Protect Our Defenders (POD), called on the Pentagon to empower military prosecutors or turn sexual assault cases to civilian justices systems.

Col. Don Christensen (ret.), released the following statement:

Leadership controls every aspect of the discipline process. They demand this control and resist all efforts to reform an archaic justice process.  It is time for leadership to accept the reality that they have failed since 2003 to drive rates down. For decades, we have heard how the next program they have instituted will finally drive rates down. We are hearing it again. The time has come to demand more than empty promises that it will be better next time. The superintendents have almost unfettered control over the academies. What tool have they lacked these last two decades to fix this problem? All the past promises have failed. Until Congress starts demanding changes, we will continue the cycle of failure followed by promises to do better next time.

“As in the broader military services, commanders have failed to lead the justice process. We should either empower military prosecutors to lead the process and decide whether to prosecute cases, or if necessary, turn over all academy cases to the relevant civilian justice systems.”

You can read Col. Christensen’s full opening remarks here.

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 advances 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.

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