***STATEMENT*** PROTECT OUR DEFENDERS PRESIDENT COL DON CHRISTENSEN (RET.) TO CALL FOR PENTAGON TO EMPOWER PROSECUTORS, RATHER THAN COMMANDERS, WITH THE AUTHORITY TO PROSECUTE SEXUAL ASSAULT CASES
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
April 2, 2019
Washington, D.C. —
Today, the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee will hold a hearing to examine military commanders’ role in sexual assault prosecutions (watch live here). Despite millions of dollars spent and multiple reforms enacted attempting to address the crisis of sexual assault in the military, there was an all-time high of 5,111 unrestricted reports of sexual assault in 2017. Prosecution rates of those allegations plummeted to 7.9% and convening authorities failed to achieve a conviction for a sex offense in 60% of the very few cases that did go to courts-martial.
Col. Don Christensen (ret.), the former Chief Prosecutor of the United State Air Force and President of Protect Our Defenders, released the following statement:
“Despite reports being at an all-time high, prosecution rates have plummeted, convictions are anemic and sentences are pathetic. According to data provided by the DAC-IPAD only 21% of penetrative offenses in FY17 before a judge resulted in a conviction for a sex offense and only 35% tried by court members resulted in such a conviction. For contact offenses the numbers were even worse with only 3.6% convicted before a judge and only 21.6% when tried by members.”
At the hearing, Col Christensen (Ret.), will appear on a panel of advocates, enlisted service members and military officials to discuss commanders retaining control over the prosecution of sexual assault and rape cases via convening authorities. The current convening authority process is the backbone of a broken military justice system exemplified by the obvious failure to hold offenders accountable. POD has repeatedly called on Congress to finally recognize that sexual assault prosecutions require experienced attorneys and should be turned over to the civilian justice system.
POD supports Congresswoman and Chairwoman of the Military Personnel Subcommittee Jackie Speier’s efforts to shine a light on the integral role commanders play in a prosecution process that has perpetually failed victims of sexual assault and put those who serve our nation at risk.
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.