Biden Helps Altering Army Regulation on Sexual Assault Circumstances

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President Biden said Friday he wanted the military to remove the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault cases from commanders’ control, a fundamental change in the military justice system.

An independent commission officially recommended Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III this week that transferring sexual assault, sexual harassment and related cases to prosecutors for special victims outside the military’s chain of command would impede order and discipline.

“Sexual assault is an abuse of power and an affront to our common humanity,” said Biden in a prepared statement. “And sexual assault in the military is doubly harmful because it also destroys the unity and cohesion that are essential to the functioning of the US military and our national defense.”

While Mr Austin and Mr Biden have endorsed the Commission’s findings – which are almost certain to be rejected by officials in some branches of the military – it will be up to Congress to change the military code.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, has a bipartisan move that would revise the way the military prosecutes sexual assault, as well as other serious crimes, which some lawmakers believe to be applicable to judging cases like this Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen is involved. Police officers said she was killed by another soldier at Fort Hood last year.

Their bill was backed by at least 70 members of the Senate – including many who voted against the same bill in 2014, arguing that it would undermine commanders. It is now in the hands of the legislature to coordinate their draft law with the vision of the Commission.

In 2019, the Department of Defense found there were 7,825 reports of sexual assault involving members of the military as victims, up 3 percent from 2018. The conviction rate for cases remained unchanged from 2018 to 2019; 7 percent of the cases the commando acted resulted in convictions, the lowest rate since the department began reporting in 2010.

“I would like to acknowledge the experience of our service staff who survived sexual assault and the courage of those who shared their stories with the world and campaigned for reform,” said Biden, adding, “I hope this announcement offers something Reassurance. “That the leadership of the Ministry of Defense is at your side, starting with your Commander-in-Chief.”