Washington, DC – The U.S. Supreme Court announced on Friday that it would hear an appeal from the Justice Department to review a military court decision that led to multiple rape convictions being overturned based on a new holding concerning the statute of limitations in the military. The Court’s decision will have a profound impact on military sexual assault survivors and the military’s ability to prosecute rapists in the armed forces.
For more than 30 years, military courts operated under no time constraint for the prosecution of rape, until the U.S Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces (CAAF) reversed decades of precedent with US v. Mangahas. The ruling from last year placed a statute of limitations of five years on any rapes between 1986 and 2006. Considering that victims can sometimes take decades to speak out about an assault, the CAAF’s decision was especially reprehensible.
One of the survivors of the three rape cases, Air Force veteran Harmony Allen, reached out to Protect Our Defenders (POD) to prevent her rapist from being set free. However, based on the CAAF’s ruling, the Air Force Court of Criminal Appeals vacated her rapist’s conviction. Those with overturned convictions get their rank and military benefits back, and also avoid registering as a sex offender. POD found a pro bono attorney to write an amicus brief for Harmony and one of the other victims and paid all costs associated with filing the brief. POD has been fighting alongside Harmony to ensure CAAF’s freeing of her rapist is reversed by the Supreme Court.
Col. Don Christensen (ret.), the former Chief Prosecutor of the United State Air Force and President of Protect Our Defenders, released the following statement:
“The fact that the Supreme Court has decided to review the US vs Mangahas ruling is a monumental step in the right direction.
“Harmony Allen was brutally raped by her trainer at Lackland Air Force Base in 2000. Her case was prosecuted in 2017 and her offender was sentenced to 16 years of confinement. Yet based on this poorly reasoned opinion, her rapist is now free.
“Harmony and the other survivors who had justice ripped away from them deserve a resounding response from the country’s highest court that this is not something that we as a nation will tolerate. Protect Our Defenders is hopeful the Supreme Court will do the right thing and restore justice for the military sexual assault survivors whose rapists’ convictions were wrongly overturned and give survivors a fair shot at justice.”
CNN: Supreme Court to take up military rape cases: https://www.cnn.com/2019/11/
United States Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces: US v. Mangahas: http://cdn.cnn.com/cnn/2019/
CNN: ‘I truly believe that he would have killed me.’ Why three women did not report their military rapists before time ran out: https://www.cnn.com/2019/10/