Despite Setback, McCaskill Continues Fight to Enact Historic Reforms to Curb Sexual Assaults
Following blocked votes, Senator introduces stand-alone legislation to press for reforms;
Victims Protection Act includes defense bill provisions, protections found in McCaskill-Ayotte-Fischer amendment, and ‘Article 32’ reform
WASHINGTON – Despite a procedural setback last week, U.S. Senator and former sex crimes prosecutor Claire McCaskill is continuing her fight to enact historic reforms to curb sexual assaults in the military, introducing the Victims Protection Act—stand-alone legislation that includes those historic reforms already included in the defense bill, as well as additional protections she has pursued in her bipartisan amendment to the bill, and in separate legislation reforming the pre-trial “Article 32” process.
McCaskill introduced the legislation to provide another path forward for the historic reforms in the event that consideration of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), which was blocked on the Senate floor last week, continues to be obstructed.
“While last week’s setbacks were frustrating for everyone, the Victims Protection Act can serve as a failsafe to ensure the historic reforms already included in the defense bill—and other protections that would have earned broad bipartisan support—get across the finish line,” said McCaskill, a senior member of the Armed Services Committee and former courtroom prosecutor of sex crimes. “The reforms in the defense bill represent the strongest possible protections for victims on the table, and I plan to continue my fight to make sure that legislation is passed.”
The Victims Protection Act includes a long list of reforms already included in the NDAA, bipartisan reforms to the “Article 32” pre-trial process, and the added protections included in the defense bill amendment sponsored by McCaskill and Senators Kelly Ayotte and Deb Fischer:
· Stripping military commanders of their ability to overturn jury convictions (included in NDAA)
· Requiring civilian review if a commander declines to prosecute a case (included in NDAA)
· Assigning victims their own independent legal counsel to protect their rights and fight for their interests (included in NDAA)
· Mandating dishonorable discharge for anyone convicted of sexual assault (included in NDAA)
· Criminalizing retaliation against victims who report a sexual assault (included in NDAA)
· Eliminating the statute of limitations in rape and sexual assault cases (included in NDAA)
· Barring the “good soldier” defense for those accused of assault (McCaskill-Ayotte-Fischer amendment)
· Empowering victims by giving them expanded input on whether their case is pursued in military or civilian court (McCaskill-Ayotte-Fischer amendment)
· Providing a confidential opportunity for discharged servicemembers to gain reviews of alleged past instances of retaliation against victims (McCaskill-Ayotte-Fischer amendment)
· Reforming the “Article 32” pre-trial process, which came under particular scrutiny following a recent Naval Academy rape case, to better protect victims
Click HERE to read a recent blog post by McCaskill outlining these historic reforms.
Read more about McCaskill's fight to curb sexual assaults in the military at www.McCaskill.senate.gov/MilitaryJustice.
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