Biden Supports Changing Military Law on Sexual Assault Cases

President Biden stated Friday that he wished the navy to take away the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault circumstances from the management of commanders, a sea change for the navy justice system.

An impartial fee formally really helpful to Defense Secretary Lloyd J. Austin III this week that sexual assault, sexual harassment and associated circumstances be shifted to particular victims prosecutors outdoors of the chain of command within the navy, one thing navy leaders have lengthy resisted, arguing that it might hinder order and self-discipline.

“Sexual assault is an abuse of power and an affront to our shared humanity,” Mr. Biden stated in a ready assertion. “And sexual assault in the military is doubly damaging because it also shreds the unity and cohesion that is essential to the functioning of the U.S. military and to our national defense.”

While Mr. Austin and Mr. Biden have supported the findings of the fee — that are all however sure to obtain pushback from officers from some branches of the navy — it will likely be as much as Congress to vary the navy regulation.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, has a bipartisan measure that may overhaul the way in which the navy prosecutes sexual assault but additionally different critical crimes, which some lawmakers imagine is essential in adjudicating circumstances just like the one involving Army Specialist Vanessa Guillen. Law enforcement officers stated she was killed by another soldier at Fort Hood final 12 months.

Her invoice has gained help from at the least 70 members of the Senate — together with many who voted against the same bill in 2014, arguing it might undermine commanders. Reconciling her invoice with the imaginative and prescient of the fee will now be within the arms of lawmakers.

In 2019, the Defense Department found that there have been 7,825 stories of sexual assault involving service members as victims, a 3 p.c enhance from 2018. The conviction charge for circumstances was unchanged from 2018 to 2019; 7 p.c of circumstances that the command took motion on resulted in conviction, the bottom charge because the division started reporting in 2010.

“I want to recognize the experience of our service members who have survived sexual assault and the bravery of those who have shared their stories with the world and advocated for reform,” Mr. Biden stated, including, “I hope this announcement offers some reassurance that the Department of Defense leadership stands with you, starting with your commander in chief.”