Press Release

Gillibrand Statement On DoD Report Showing Reports Of Sexual Assault Remain At Record Highs And Conviction Rates Continue To Decrease

May 18, 2021

Today, the Department of Defense released its FY20 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military, and the data demonstrates that reports of sexual assault in the military remain at record highs, that the number of cases that went to trial after substantiation of allegations of sexual assault decreased, and conviction rates dropped significantly. 

“This year’s report and more than a decade of data on sexual assault in the military shows a clear and disturbing trend—reports of sexual assaults have increased virtually every single year and remain at record highs, while prosecution and conviction rates have declined including a shocking 10% decline in the prosecution rate from last year,” said Senator Gillibrand. “We must instill confidence in the military justice system and deliver justice for survivors. Thankfully, the Senate is ready to act. The Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act (MJIIPA), which would take the decision to prosecute sexual assault and other serious crimes out of the chain of command, has now garnered a filibuster-proof, bipartisan majority. I look forward to working with my colleagues to pass this urgently needed legislation.”

The report shows:

  • A decrease in cases that went to trial after being substantiated allegations of sexual assault. (FY20=61%, FY19=71%)
  • A significant drop in criminal convictions. 3.3% of victims saw a criminal conviction in 2019, only 1.9% of victims saw a criminal conviction this year.
  • Total reports remain at record highs (FY20=7816, FY19=7825) and have consistently increased over the past decade. 
  • On Thursday, May 13, 2021, Gillibrand announced that her bill, the Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevent Act (MJIIPA), had earned a filibuster-proof bipartisan majority. The broadly bipartisan legislation is supported by 61 Senators including 41 Democrats, 2 Independents, 18 Republicans, and the majority of the Senate Armed Services Committee Members. With widespread support, the commonsense military justice reform legislation has multiple paths to becoming law this Congress.

The military justice reform bill would professionalize how the military prosecutes serious crimes — including rape and sexual assault, murder, manslaughter, child endangerment, child pornography, and negligent homicide — by moving the decision to prosecute from the chain of command to independent, trained, professional military prosecutors, and provides for several new prevention provisions such as more and better training for leadership and increased physical security measures, while ensuring that commanders still have the ability to provide strong leadership and ensure a successful command climate.  

In addition to Senators Gillibrand, Grassley, Ernst, and Blumenthal the full list of Senate co-sponsors includes: Baldwin (D-WI), Barrasso (R-WY), Bennet (D-CO), Blunt (R-MO), Booker (D-NJ), Braun (R-IN), Brown (D-OH), Cantwell (D-WA), Capito (R-WV), Cardin (D-MD), Casey (D-PA), Cassidy (R-LA), Collins (R-ME), Coons (D-DE), Cortez Masto (D-NV), Cramer (R-ND), Cruz (R-TX), Duckworth (D-IL), Durbin (D-IL), Fischer (R-NE), Feinstein (D-CA), Hassan (D-NH), Hawley (R-MO), Heinrich (D-NM), Hickenlooper (D-CO), Hirono (D-HI), Kaine (D-VA), Kelly (D-AZ), King (I-ME), Klobuchar (D-MN), Leahy (D-VT), Lujan (D-NM), Lummis (R-WY), Markey (D-MA), Marshall (R-KS), Menendez (D-NJ), Merkley (D-OR), Moran (R-KS), Murkowski (R-AL), Murray (D-WA), Ossoff (D-GA), Padilla (D-CA), Paul (R-KY), Peters (D-MI), Rosen (D-NV), Sanders (I-VT),  Schatz (D-HI), Shaheen (D-NH), T. Smith (D-MN), Stabenow (D-MI), Tester (D-MT), Tuberville (R-AL), Van Hollen (D-MD), Warner (D-VA), Warnock (D-GA), Warren (D-MA), and Wyden (D-OR). 

The Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act is endorsed by leading veterans groups including IAVA, American Legion, VFW, Vietnam Veterans of America, Protect our Defenders, SWAN, National Alliance to End Sexual Violence, National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV), Common Defense, and Veterans Recovery Project.