Tag Archives: military sexual violence

Military Sexual Assault Policy Updates

By Kathleen Gilberd

Published in the Winter 2016 issue of On Watch.

MLTF Resources on Military Sexual Violence

MLTF has an extensive guide to Military Sexual Violence available on our website.

The MSV Guide was published in 2014 (prior to the changes noted in this article, but will soon be updated to reflect them). Currently only in digital format, once updated, it will be available in print, in limited quantities (unless additional funding can be obtained.) We are grateful to the National Lawyers Guild Foundation  for the funding that made this production possible.

Visit militarylawhelp.org to find this and other material on GI rights and military law.

If after reading our documents, you still need legal counsel to address your issue, please call us for a referral.

The recently-enacted 2016 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA; Public Law 114-92) includes a number of new policy provisions on military sexual assault, most of them designed to facilitate changes made in prior Authorization Acts.

Section 531 of the 2016 NDAA expands and details a victim’s right to submit a petition for a writ of mandamus to the military Court of Criminal Appeals (CCA). The section amends Article 6b, subsection E, of the UCMJ to allow such a petition when the victim believes rights afforded under the following are violated during a preliminary hearing (Art. 32) or court-martial:

  • 6, UCMJ (which includes other victim’s rights provisions)
  • 32, UCMJ
  • Military Rule of Evidence (MRE) 412, which concerns admission of evidence of a victim’s sexual background
  • MRE 513, regarding the psychotherapist-patient privilege
  • MRE 514, regarding the victim advocate-victim privilege
  • MRE 615, covering exclusion of witnesses

Further, if the victim of an offense under the UCMJ is subject to an order to submit to a deposition, notwithstanding his or her availability to testify at court-martial, the victim may petition the CCA for a writ of mandamus to quash the order.

These petitions for writ of mandamus are to be forwarded directly to CCA by procedures to be prescribed by the President, and “to the extent practicable, shall have priority over all other proceedings before the court.”

DoD releases report on sexual assaults. What do the new numbers mean?

military sexual assaultThe Department of Defense has just released a new report on sexual assault in the military, and Pentagon officials are claiming that their efforts against sexual assault involve “notable progress.”

The report gives a top ten list of “indicators and agents of change,” including “extensive leadership engagement,” a “comprehensive prevention and response system” and an “enhanced prevention strategy,” among other things. According to the report, nearly 6,000 reports of sexual assault were made in 2014, up 8% from the previous year and significantly higher than the 3,375 reports in 2012. At the same time, DoD estimates, on the basis of “provisional” figures, that the number of actual assaults has gone down, from 26,000 in 2012 to 19,000 in 2014. (See a detailed rundown of the numbers from Military Times.)

New Army command policy reg

The Army has just released a new version of AR 600-20, “Army Command Policy” (PDF).

This reg gives commanding officers direction on a wide range of issues, including Article 138 complaints, dissent policy, sexual assault and sexual harassment, etc. The new version updates Army equal opportunity policy, gives additional guidance on sexual assault/harassment policy, clarifies groups of personnel who must be informed of accommodation of religious practices policies and discusses those policies, incorporates policies from Army Directive 2013-18 on participation in extremist, terrorist and criminal gang organizations and activities, clarifies fraternization policy, adds “bullying” as prohibited conduct (along with hazing), defines a protected communication, etc.

The reg has garnered public attention because it lists the word “Negro” as an acceptable term; this section is now being reconsidered, according to the Army Times.

Update 11/7/2014: Use of word ‘Negro’ removed from new Army reg

Career Ender: Sexual assault or sexual harassment complaints still prevent advancement

By Jim Klimaski

Punishing the transgressor addresses half the problem. Where is meaningful assistance for the victim? 

The Tailhook scandal occurred over 20 years ago. At least 83 women and seven men were identified as having been sexually assaulted at the Navy/Marine Corps Tailhook Association Convention held in Las Vegas in September 1991. There were over 4,000 active, reserve and retired service members in attendance, including several Flag officers.  What occurred at this gathering soon became public knowledge and calls by members of Congress for an investigation started a long battle between those in the military who wanted to sweep the matter under the rug and senior officials at the Department of Defense who wanted a thorough and complete investigation leading to changes in the military’s attitude toward women in uniform. This struggle still continues with some success, but the victims of the harassment and assault continue to find themselves ostracized, their military career at an end. None of the sexual assault victims from the Tailhook scandal were able to continue their military careers.

With a strong push by Congress, the various military services have begun to take a hard line on prosecuting the alleged perpetrators of sexual assault and harassment. Each service claims it has established a special teams of experienced prosecutors aided by victim witness counselors who help the complaining victim through the court martial process. But outside these legal proceedings little is done to assist the sexual assault victim should they wish to continue their military career.

Military Sexual Violence

A Guide to Sexual Assault and Sexual Harassment Policies in the U.S. Armed Forces for Servicemembers, MSV Survivors and Their Advocates

By Kathleen Gilberd

Download PDF of this content for offline reading/printing

Table of Contents

Kathy Johnson, Jim Klimaski, Jon Pinkus and Brad Thomason assisted in editing this publication. Rena Guay contributed proofreading and digital production.

While sexual assault and sexual harassment have long been serious problems in the armed forces, in recent years they have become epidemic. DoD’s own reports estimate that over 26,000 servicemembers, both men and women, were assaulted in 2012. The reports also show that many members are afraid to report assaults or harassment — often out of fear of command retaliation — and that when reports are made, they are often ignored or retaliation does, in fact, occur.

This publication gives an overview of the policy for reporting sexual assault and harassment, along with remedies for retaliation and harassment — critical information everyone in the military should have before they need it. It is written for assault and harassment victims/survivors, but it is just as useful for lay counselors or attorneys assisting victims in securing their rights.

Because of the increasing attention to this problem, public outrage, and congressional scrutiny, this area of military law is currently changing.  Before taking action, we recommend consulting one of the groups listed under the Resources section, or visit our website for any recent policy changes. The groups we’ve listed can also provide referrals to military counselors or attorneys to assist a victim in making a complaint and avoiding reprisals. Updates on military sexual assault policy are also posted on our website at nlgmltf.org