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Hawaii delegation supports bill on military sexual assault

By William Cole

POSTED:
LAST UPDATED: 12:09 p.m. HST, May 17, 2013



All four members of Hawaii’s Congressional delegation have signed onto a bill that would for the first time remove from the military chain of command decision-making over whether serious crimes are prosecuted.

The proposal follows outrage over high numbers of sexual assaults in the military, as well as high-profile cases including an Air Force lieutenant colonel’s sexual assault conviction that was overturned by a commander, and an Army commander allowing a Wheeler Army Airfield helicopter pilot to resign when he was twice accused of rape.

The Military Justice Improvement Act would remove the prosecution of all crimes punishable by one year or more in confinement from the chain of command, except crimes that are uniquely military in nature, such as disobeying orders or going absent without leave.

The law would instead hand over the decision-making to experienced military prosecutors, according to a release from U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York.

Also codified would be Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel’s proposal that the convening authority in military cases could not set aside a guilty finding or change a guilty finding to a lesser offense.

“It is the federal government’s responsibility to end this behavior and protect service members. Sen. Gillibrand’s legislation puts military legal professionals in charge of prosecuting serious crimes like sexual assaults, leaving commanders to prosecute military missions,” said U.S. Sen. Brian Schatz.

The legislation “ensures that military sexual assault victims who come forward are guaranteed a safe, fair, and transparent process, free from fear of retaliation,” said U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “We in Congress and leaders in the Defense Department need to keep shining a spotlight on this very disturbing problem. We cannot and will not let this issue lie.”

Hawaii’s other Congressional members, U.S. Sen. Mazie Hirono and U.S. Rep. Colleen Hanabusa, also support the measure.

Gillibrand’s office said that according to Pentagon estimates, more than 26,000 incidents of sexual assault or unwanted sexual contact occurred in 2012; overall reports increased 37 percent; and sexual assault crimes increased 6 percent to 3,374 reports. But there were only 238 convictions, Gillibrand said.







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Ronin006 wrote:
This is very wrong. The flap over of few high-profile sexual abuse cases is being way over-blown. Less than 1% of military sexual assault convictions have been overturned. That figure comes from none other than Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, so how could that be wrong? The knee-jerk reaction by some members of Congress assumes that alleged victims and accusers are always right and, therefore, no conviction should be overturned. If they are always right, why bother to have a trial? Just lock up the accused and throw away the key. What happens with military court cases is no different than what happens with civilian court cases. Overturns occur in both systems. Both systems have flaws but generally work quite well. Congress needs to leave the military justice system as it is.
on May 17,2013 | 01:04PM
Ronin006 wrote:
This comment was sent for approval. Why? "This is very wrong. The flap over of few high-profile sexual abuse cases is being way over-blown. Less than 1% of military sexual assault convictions have been overturned. That figure comes from none other than Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, so how could that be wrong? The knee-jerk reaction by some members of Congress assumes that alleged victims and accusers are always right and, therefore, no conviction should be overturned. If they are always right, why bother to have a trial? Just lock up the accused and throw away the key. What happens with military court cases is no different than what happens with civilian court cases. Overturns occur in both systems. Both systems have flaws but generally work quite well. Congress needs to leave the military justice system as it is."
on May 17,2013 | 01:39PM
allie wrote:
cool
on May 17,2013 | 01:56PM
Ronin006 wrote:
This is very wrong. The flap over of few high-profile zexual abuse cases is being way over-blown. Less than 1% of military zexual assault convictions have been overturned. That figure comes from none other than Senator Barbara Boxer, Democrat of California, so how could that be wrong? The knee-jerk reaction by some members of Congress assumes that alleged victims and accusers are always right and, therefore, no conviction should be overturned. If they are always right, why bother to have a trial? Just lock up the accused and throw away the key. What happens with military court cases is no different than what happens with civilian court cases. Overturns occur in both systems. Does that make them unjust? Both systems have flaws but generally work quite well. Congress needs to leave the military justice system as it is.
on May 17,2013 | 02:19PM
slowroll323 wrote:
This is an excellent proposal, one that is long overdue.
on May 17,2013 | 04:12PM
Ronin006 wrote:
Why? What is wrong with the current system?
on May 17,2013 | 04:48PM
ejkorvette wrote:
Hawaii Delegation? A panel of "Tag-Alongs". Whatever the mainland does, so does Hawaii. Slaves imitating their Slave Masters!
on May 17,2013 | 04:35PM
Ronin006 wrote:
A classic case of "Fire, ready, aim." Our congressional delegation has it azzbackward.
on May 17,2013 | 07:49PM
Ronin006 wrote:
This is follow-on to my earlier comment in which I said it is wrong to change the military justice systems because of alleged mishandling of a very small number of sexual assault cases and the presumption by members of congress is that accusers and victims are always right. Well, please read the Break News story titled “Michigan woman accused of fabricating cancer diagnosis, rape, kidnapping” and you will see what I mean.
on May 17,2013 | 06:02PM
kuroiwaj wrote:
And, half of the 26,000 sexual assault cases in the military are women on men. There were no hearings on the legislation. Let's see what happens when the bill reaches the floor.
on May 17,2013 | 07:26PM
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