WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, Senator Rick Scott announced his co-sponsorship of Senator Martha McSally’s Combating Military Sexual Assault Act to end the problem of sexual assault in the military. The legislation focuses on improvements to the investigation and judicial process, as well as victim support once an assault has been reported. Senators Thom Tillis and Mike Rounds are also co-sponsors of the bill.
Senator Rick Scott said, “Sexual assault can never be tolerated – not in our military or anywhere else in this country. I’m proud to work with Senator McSally, a courageous voice for victims, to end sexual assault. The Combating Military Sexual Assault Act gives our military the resources it needs to end the plague of sexual assault, hold perpetrators accountable, and provide victims the support they deserve.”
Senator Martha McSally said, “Sexual assault is intolerable and we must step up and demand action now. A commander is like no other position in the civilian world. We need to empower commanders to have more responsibility and more accountability than they do now. My bill will improve the timeliness from the time an assault is reported to when it is brought to its conclusion. I urge all of my colleagues to join me in saying the time is now to end sexual assault and take the steps necessary to give commanders, investigators, prosecutors, and all involved in the process the resources they need.”
Senator Thom Tillis said, “I commend Senator McSally for her strong leadership in combatting sexual assault in the military, and I’m proud to join her in support of this landmark legislation to support victims and make the military justice system more expeditious and efficient.”
Military Officers Association of America Executive Officer, Lt. Gen. Dana Atkins, said, “MOAA supports this comprehensive bill ensuring our armed forces capitalize on standardized prevention and training while remaining flexible enough to adapt to best practices. The added support for victims continues to be paramount as we continue to learn from each other, and from other institutions, to try and rid our forces of sexual assault.”
The Combating Military Sexual Assault Act includes the following provisions:
Prevention and Training:
- Direct the Department of Defense to conduct additional research on effective sexual assault reduction programs at colleges and universities.
- Standardize and modernize training requirements across services through a comprehensive review of best practices in military justice, victim assistance, promotion of healthy command climates, and ensuring the accused is afforded due process rights.
- Ensure Special Victim Counsels (SVCs) are located to guarantee timely access when a victim requests a SVC after reporting an assault.
- Empower commanders with additional responsibility to communicate with victims about the investigation and judicial process.
- Provide victims additional options for restricted reporting when a report comes from a third party.
- Improve processes to communicating with victims and documenting victim preference about the reporting process, including jurisdictional preference.
- Guarantee privacy protections for victims utilizing the CATCH program to report serial offenders.
- Remove potential barriers to reporting by directing DoD to study the feasibility of applying “safe to report” policies related to collateral misconduct offenses across all military services.
- Ensure military judges have similar authority as civilian judges with relation to pre-trial issues.
- Mandate the development of a plan to form a DoD-wide data management system to better share and track information on criminal cases, including normalizing data so that each military service is tracking the same data in the same way to ease data sharing and tracking.
- Direct the services to create and report on processes for the immediate collaboration at the start of an investigation by Special Victim Investigation and Prosecution (SVIP) teams in order to streamline efforts.
- Mandate that the DoD develop a process to track that Military Protection Orders are shared with civilian authorities.
- Increase capabilities for investigators to meet increasing demand for digital evidence processing and improve the timeliness of investigations.
- Modify the Manual for Courts-Martial to add a specific offense for “sexual harassment.”
- Direct the creation of non-binding sentencing guidelines to create consistency in punishment.
- Promote timely public access to military justice documents, while ensuring measures are taken against inappropriate release of personal information.
The Combating Military Sexual Assault Act is available HERE.