Protect Our Defenders News Blog


The Pentagon’s Battle Against Sexual Assault Rages On

TIME Magazine reports:

The Pentagon kept running into bad sexual-assault news last week: the Army’s top sex-crimes prosecutor was suspended from his post following a female subordinate’s claim that Lieut. Colonel Joseph Morse groped her at a sexual-assault conference. Army Brigadier General Jeffrey Sinclair pleaded guilty to adultery and possessing pornography on the eve of his trial on sexual-assault charges. Army Sergeant First Class Michael McClendon pleaded guilty in a case accusing him of videotaping female West Point cadets in showers and locker rooms, and was sentenced to 33 months imprisonment.

But none of this seemed to matter across the Potomac River. On Thursday, the Senate derailed a push to reform military justice by stripping commanders of the responsibility for prosecuting sexual assaults and other crimes, and giving it to military lawyers to prosecute. On Monday, the Senate is expected to pass milder reforms.

So what gives? Opponents of last week’s proposal — including the Pentagon and powerful members of the Armed Services Committee — said the change, championed by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a New York Democrat, would take too much clout away from commanders in their never-ending effort to promote good order and discipline in their ranks. “Too many of the members of the Senate have turned their back on these victims and survivors,” she said after the vote. She has pledged to try again, perhaps next year after the midterm elections change the Senate’s makeup.

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