Senate Introduces Legislation to Crack Down on Military Sex Crimes

The Senate has voted to instate more stringent penalties for service members convicted of sexual assault, rape, or forcible sodomy. The new policies require that a convicted assailant to be administratively discharged if their sentence didn’t order punitive dismissal. This is the first of several amendments related to sex crimes in the military to go before the Senate, marking the first of what could be many reforms in 2013.

Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minn., is one of several senators pushing for a crackdown on sex crimes in the military. She has three amendments that would make big policy changes: 

  • A proposition to require that rape, sexual assault and forcible sodomy charges be handled only through courts-martial, and not through nonjudicial punishment.
  • A command review of personnel records of anyone accused of a substantiated rape or sexual assault claim to determine if the accused was been convicted in a court-martial or through nonjudicial punishment of a similar crime. 
  • Restricted incident reports on sexual assault allegations to be retained by the military for a minimum of 50 years.

Additionally, an amendment sponsored by Sen. Jon Tester, D-Mont., aims to help victims. His proposed legislation lowers the standard of proof required by the Veterans Affairs Department for a sexual assault victim to be eligible for disability compensation for post-traumatic stress resulting from sexual trauma. The new plan allows a written statement by a veteran about rape or assault to be accepted as proof when supplemented by a written statement from a mental health professional. The plan would be helpful in instances where there is no official record, such as health care or police reports, to collaborate a victim’s claim.