Today, the Department of Defense Inspector General released a report demonstrating that the military is not complying with federal law regarding the prosecution of special victims cases like sexual assault and domestic violence. The report outlined several disturbing findings, including that the military:
- Did not “consistently assign certified lead investigators for investigations of covered offenses.”
- Did not “consistently document communications with Special Victim Investigation and Prosecution members about covered offenses.”
- Did not “consistently assign specially trained prosecutors to cases involving covered offenses.” Disturbingly, the report found that across the Armed Services, 58% of cases did not have properly trained prosecutors—and in the Air Force, the number was 94%.
“The results of this report are disturbing and, at the same time, are completely unsurprising given the military’s long history of resisting reforms to how it handles special victims crimes like sexual assault and domestic violence,” said Senator Gillibrand. “Despite the fact that Congress has mandated that qualified attorneys and investigators be assigned to sexual assault cases, the military has clearly not complied and there is little evidence to suggest that it will do so in the future. This report demonstrates clearly the need to pass the bipartisan Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act, which is included in the Senate Defense bill and will put the responsibility of prosecuting these cases where it belongs—in the hands of trained military prosecutors. This is the only provision in the Defense bill that would address this pervasive issue.”
Senator Gillibrand is the leading advocate for victims of sexual abuse and assault in the military and successfully included her bipartisan Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act (MJIIPA) in the committee-passed Senate National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) for Fiscal Year 2022. This bill would professionalize how the military prosecutes serious crimes by moving the decision over whether to prosecute them to independent, trained, professional military prosecutors. MJIIPA has 66 Senate co-sponsors and the House companion legislation has 220 co-sponsors, representing a majority of the House.