(WBRE/WYOU-TV) Despite increased prevention efforts, sexual assaults continue to plague the military. Last year, Congress secured provisions in the National Defense Authorization Act that established policies and procedures to end juvenile sexual assault and harassment, domestic violence, and child abuse. Eyewitness News Washington Reporter Brie Jackson reports Senators held a hearing today to find out what programs are working, which aren’t, and where more resources are still needed to protect sexual assault victims and prosecute offenders.
Senator Martha McSally served in the Air Force and says she too knows the pain of being a sexual assault victim
“But unlike so many brave survivors I didn’t report being sexually assaulted. Like so many women and men, I didn’t trust the system” Said Senator Martha McSally.
Lawmakers want to make sure those who defend our country are protected.
“Sexual assault in the military is still pervasion. It’s still hurting our readiness” Said Senator Gillibrand of New York
Senator Thom Tillis says legislators have taken steps to address sexual assault in the military.
“These provisions of the law include protecting and empowering victims” noted Senator Tillis
Sexual assault advocates believe an increase in reporting cases is one sign that some programs are working because victims feel more comfortable coming forward.
Ellen haring is with the service women’s action network.
“It removes untrained commanders from deciding if when and how to move forward in felony cases” Noted Ellen Haring of SWAN.
The defense department’s advisory committee is currently examining sexual assault allegations and conviction rates.
It’s common for sexual assault allegations to never make it to trial.
One reason is it’s hard to prove an assault happened.
Colonel Doug James works with accused service members.
He says the crackdown on sexual assaults in the military has also lead to more false reports.
“Congressional pressure either direct or indirect has pushed innocent service members to Court marshals with no legal basis and does not serve the needs of real victims” Added Colonel Doug James, Save Our Heroes.
Defense officials say they’re working to make improvements and hold perpetrators accountable.
An annual report on sexual assaults in the armed forces is expected to be released later this year.