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Sexual Assault Legislation Summary

Congresswoman Speier

The progress made in the civilian world regarding the treatment of sexual assault has not translated to the military world.   This legislation aims to fundamentally change how sexual assault is handled in the military, with the goal of dramatically decreasing incidences of sexual assault. 

This legislation takes the reporting, oversight, investigation, and victim care of sexual assaults out of the hands of the normal chain of command and places jurisdiction in the hands of an autonomous Sexual Assault Oversight and Response Office comprised of civilian and military experts.  The legislation also creates a sexual assault database within DoD that will be required to share information with DoJ civilian sexual offender database.

Establishment of a Sexual Assault Oversight and Response Council in the Department of Defense

The Council will review courts martial cases of sexual assaults and will determine if it should be referred to an appeals court within the military or referred to the Department of Justice.  The Council will appoint people to the Sexual Assault Response Office, and advise the Office.  The Secretary of Defense will appoint two members who must have served as military judges.  The President will appoint one member from the Department of Justice, one member who has experience advocating for the rights of those sexually assaulted in the military, and one member who has expertise working on civilian cases of sexual assault.

Removal of cases of sexual assault from the chain of command in the military

This provision explicitly takes control of sexual assault cases out of the hands of base commanders and places jurisdiction within the Sexual Assault Oversight and Response Office.  This provision also takes away the possibility of non-judicial punishment or the consideration of service when looking at the perpetrator.  Among the expanded rights of the victims in this section, a victim may appeal the decision of a general court martial in the case to the Sexual Assault Response Council who may refer the case to the Department of Justice.  A victim may appeal a verdict that was decided previous to enactment of this legislation. 

Sexual offender database

This provision directs the Department of Defense to collect and maintain information regarding sexual assaults in the U.S. Armed Forces.  Upon a conviction of sexual assault this information will be sent to the Department of Justice to become a part of the National Sex Offender Registry.

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