January 08, 2014

Gillibrand Statement on Retirement of Military Commander Who Overturned Guilty Verdict In Aviano Sexual Assault Case and Shut Down Court Martial of Accused Rapist in Another Assault Case

Gillibrand Called for Lt. Gen. Franklin's Ouster Last Month

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) released the following statement today after it was announced that Lt. Gen. Franklin, the Aviano Air Base commander who reversed a guilty verdict in a sexual assault conviction, will retire. Gillibrand called for his removal after it was learned that Franklin subverted justice in yet another sexual assault case by denying to proceed to a court martial after refusing to speak with the alleged victim.

“For months the military has been arguing that commanders retaining convening authority to prosecute sexual assault is the solution to the vast underreporting of sexual assault crimes in the military. Lt. Gen. Franklin's retirement is a glaring admission that untrained, biased commanders should not have this authority. I am pleased that Lt. Gen. Franklin will no longer serve in his post – but take no joy in this outcome as it's a painful reminder for the victims of military sexual assault that the deck is stacked against justice when commanders hold all the cards.

“The men and women of the military deserve to have unbiased, trained military prosecutors reviewing their cases and making decisions based solely on the evidence. Nowhere in America would we allow a boss to decide if an employee was sexually assaulted or not except the United States military. We owe our service members better. I will continue to seek to fix this flaw in the UCMJ by passing the Military Justice Improvement Act in the coming weeks.”