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Senate to Let Military Determine If a Service Member is Raped

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  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Portland, OR
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    In a vote that made me absolutely sick, the Senate voted down Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's legislation that would have stripped the military chain of command from having the authority to prosecute rape cases, something that is reaching pandemic levels within our armed forces. The fact the vote wasn't 100-0 after the recent report that the US Army’s top prosecutor for sexual assault cases has been suspended after being accused of sexual assault goes to show that our military nor our Senate actually cares about solving this crisis.

    I truly wonder how anyone can actually stick up for this tragedy of a vote. Our Congress has the constitutional mandate to force our armed services to do what they say. Instead of using that force, they bend to the military's will and let them tell our representatives what they want.

    How many more rapes will it take for our Congress to wake up--100? 1,000? 10,000? I hope that the Senators that voted no realize the tragic mistake that they made. Our military needs to be told what to do because they will never do it by themselves.
  • Democrat
    Philadelphia, PA
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    How is the existing system working so far, pretty badly I say, now in the top down world of the military how can a lower ranking member bring charges up the Chain of Command if the culprit is in the Chain of Command, there are many different ways to insure the integrity of the charges without brow beating or intimidating the complaintent or even placing them in fear if the charges are bonifide, there has to be an alternative way to bring justice into this mess, without ruining a military victims career. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand's piece of legislation would have addressed that very issue/concerns.
  • Center Left
    Independent
    Central, FL
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    What does the JAG group do. I believe that stands for Judge Advocate General. Would this group be in a position to do this service ? Having not served in the military, there's much that I don't know about these procedures.
    This issue makes the branches of the military look like uncontrolled asses. It makes the leadership look even worse. I think the penalties should be very harsh - just like they should be in a domestic court.
  • Democrat
    Philadelphia, PA
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    TJ Wrote: What does the JAG group do. I believe that stands for Judge Advocate General. Would this group be in a position to do this service ? Having not served in the military, there's much that I don't know about these procedures.
    This issue makes the branches of the military look like uncontrolled asses. It makes the leadership look even worse. I think the penalties should be very harsh - just like they should be in a domestic court.
    Having served in the Military but as an enlisted man and not an Officer, I can attest to the good ole boy mentality, if you consider that a say, Supreme Court Judge has an law School grad working for him and this grad has visions of a long career in law, and what this Judge says or does would have a direct impact on her fledging career, this grad gets groped or worse gets raped, now she has to report it the very people who know this Judge ,they also are aware of the good this Judge did for their careers or others, and that even if the charges are true and her attacker is convicted, her career is officially ended, so what she does is consider the time and expense of law school and everything she dreamed of will now being taken from her. So she shuts up. My point is that these types of attacks on females in the military occurr a lot more than anyone thinks.
  • Independent
    Widefield, CO
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    I would like to point out a few facts... First off rape is far more common on college campuses than in the military. Second, the military prosecutes a far higher percentage of sexual assaults (including, but not limited to rape) than civilians. Third, if they remove prosecution from the military than they LOWER the possible punishment for rape. UCMJ (Uniform Code of Military Justice) has that a person convicted by court martial of rape can be sentenced with death. Take the case of someone who rapes a child, how many would oppose that person being executed? The civilian legal system does not have that as a possible sentence. Also conviction rates for Court Martial (across the board, not just with sexual assaults) are 90%, show me a state that can claim that? The procedures are essentially the same, as is the burden of proof, but often times a Court Martial happens much faster and with less expense to the public than a civilian trial would.

    I would also like to point out that the Military, unlike the civilian system, can prosecute people who abuse the system. There was a case a while back where a woman claimed she was raped by fellow soldiers in Iraq. After examining the evidence it was found that not only had she not been raped, she was NEVER in Iraq. She was given an BCD (Bad Conduct Discharge, most people call it Dishonorable Discharge) for perjury and false allegations. (I will grant you that something like that isn't common, but it does happen and is prosecuted under military law, unlike civilian law.)
  • Democrat
    Philadelphia, PA
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    I never implied that rape was more common in the military than on the campus of some collages, I stated that there are more rapes in the military than are reported. I also gave a brief summary of why that it is , all my opinion of course.
  • Center Left
    Independent
    Denton, TX
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    Rape is probably the second worst possible crime there is. But the UCMJ holds the military to a higher standard and enforces stricter rules.

    Rape is a REALLY hard crime to prove. It often boils down to a "he said/she said" case and our justice system operates on an "innocent until proven guilty" standard. The courts system is usually doesn't ruin someone's entire life based on a "he said/she said" argument. This explains the really low conviction rate on rape cases.

    The UCMJ puts a much weaker burden of proof on the prosecutor and even if that burden can't be met, there are several more articles and regulation violations that can be used to punish the defendant.

    Fortunately, rape incidents are going down. In 1995, 0.5% of women and 0.06% of men, age 12 or older, were raped. By 2010, those numbers declined to 0.2% for women and 0.01% for men according to the National Crime Victimization survey. The really high, scary numbers are usually junk stats from advocacy groups which use a much broader definition of rape, specifically counting consenting sex under the influence of alcohol as rape.

    I'm personally fine with the military handling rape cases unless evidence comes up for gross negligence or cover-ups.
  • Democrat
    Missouri
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    This thread is so overwhelming and I am of the belief that the military does ignore most assaults from superior ranks on lower ranking individuals. It's all about the rank and where your pecking order is in the system environment. Most all high ranking officials get away with murder, although it appears that the media is striking enough on the military to change past practices. I am sure that rape and assaults are more dominate in the military than in college. I can agree that both military and college are sufficiently high that begs for justice. How about explaining the numbers in the poor housing areas, HUD buildings/high rises and in the streets. If you could ever get an accurate number from the streets, you would most likely see that it makes the military and colleges look like preschool. There is no way out of the rape and assaults that occur in those housing projects. It's a natural occurrence.

    This subject is reminding me of the famous movie scene from "A Few Good Men", where Col. Nathan R. Jessep (Jack Nicholson) foaming at the mouth rant shouting, "..you can't handle the truth...." to the military defense attorney (Tom Cruise). Although a movie, I often thought if this was real, Col. Jessep would have beaten the defense and walked out as proud as he could boasting his uniform, medals and ribbons. Under the UCMJ, justice is not always for the best and many that are guilty are let off with a reprimand, a worst than normal command change, or a forced retirement. The guilty superiors that got away had a lot of good buddies on that court martial.

    I was waiting for one of those Senior Officers to stand up at that Senate hearing and say, "you can't handle the truth". Great and classic Nicholson.
  • Independent
    Widefield, CO
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    AMC, I'm reminded of something my dad has told me about his time in Army. It was found out that one of the guys was abusing his wife and she refused to press charges or testify against him. (Even in civilian court that would kill a case against the guy right there) The guys in the platoon my dad was in took the guy out and beat the tar out of him. This guy outranked most of them and even the company commander knew what happened. They got away with it and justice (although vigilante) was done. That is the attitude of most guys in the current military. If the law can't/won't deal with a situation, the soldiers will. I've heard cases where soldiers who thought they got away with rape 'disappeared' while on FTX with their squad/platoon. As such I have a hard time seeing it as a 'reaching pandemic levels' as Jared said. I would also like to know where he gets his figures as far as that goes... The DOD estimates that about there are about 19000 sexual assaults (not just rape) per year in the military. Just counting active duty there are about 1,369,532 service members. (There are about 850,880 reservists) that means that the rate (assuming each sexual assault is on a different person) is 1.3%. Hardly a pandemic.
  • Center Left
    Independent
    Denton, TX
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    1.3% is still very high when compared to the national rate of 0.07%. That is significant difference. While 'pandemic' might bit of alarmist jargon, it isn't completely wrong. The last thing our service members should be worried about is the person fighting next to them or higher ranking officers that are suppose to be on their side.
  • Center Left
    Independent
    Denton, TX
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    Here is some more fun math.
    ~91% of sexual assault victims are female.
    ~About 15% of the military is female.


    So plug in those numbers and statistically speaking.
    ~of the 19000 assaults per year, 17290 of them are likely to happen to women.
    ~1,369,532 Active and 850,880 reservists and you can get about 330,362 females.

    So, 17290 assaults to 330,362 women, and you come out with a rate of 5.2% for just women. Much, much higher than the national rate for women victims of 0.6%. If 5.2% of the population contracted H1N1, I would imagine it would be a pandemic.

    But if you want to get technical. Sexual Assault will never, ever reach pandemic levels because there is no way for it to meet any of the three requirements to be labeled a pandemic as defined by WHO. Able to infect humans, Able to cause disease in humans,and Able to spread from human to human quite easily.
  • Democrat
    Missouri
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    Although the thread is about the recent vote on the Gillibrand's legislation, there is discussion that rapes and assault in the military are too much for the American public to read about. I agree that rapes and assault in any case is illegal, immoral and unethically for any person to commit. However, if the notion that a National rate exists as 0.6% for women victims, I would not believe for one instance this is correct. Just because it is reported by some study, that study is riddled with fraud and poor accounting.

    I did a Bing search on "estimated numbers of rapes in poor housing projects" and came up with some interesting links. One is a recent legal testimony.

    http://www.judiciary.Senate.gov/pdf/10-09-14KilpatrickTestimony.pdf

    and in "Slum - Wikipedia" that most all communities that has "slum" areas, police rarely respond to crime, especially when rape calls come in through 911.

    Comparing rape and assault in the military to a national average is like comparing Apples to Kumquats. Most rapes are not recorded in crime ridden areas and I would believe the same goes for the military due to repercussions a victim would receive from fellow members of the Armed Forces.

    Rape and Assault is as it is and numbers should not be an issue to judge the worthiness of a bill forwarded to Congress delivering a change in Military policy. The acts of rape and assault is a crime and should be afforded the highest judicial proceeding available. A verdict should be rendered after a trial of peers and the victim will have his/her day in court. I hope that justice can be given on all cases of rape and assault and not be mitigated in the discussions on numbers, estimates, and national percentages.

    One big issue with me is that these national numbers rarely include the children as victims, so please treat the act of rape and assault as it is, a crime punishable by "LAW". Let no General, Admiral, Senator, Congressman, President, CEO or any powerful leader stand in the way of swift justice. Support the victims in all cases.

    I believe that this issue is not over and that continued legislative proceedings will succeed in changing Military policy. Most of us that have served in the Armed Forces know how contaminated the UCMJ can become, especially in the "good-ole-boy" character of the military. We as serviceman know the military and how it protects their own, even at the expense of accepting the crime.
  • North Carolina
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    First, for those with no military experience, any "cat call" or such is a "sexual assault" in the military. Not to downplay rape or other physical assaults, those numbers such as 19,000 a year include thousands of incidents not even considered as reportable in the civilian community. Military Officers at all levels take assaults very seriously. Having served as an Article 31 officer (Grand Jury) on a rape case, I spent over a month interviewing witnesses and examining evidence just to make a recommendation to the Courts Martial authority as to whether or not to proceed to trial. The rights of both the accused and victim were given more scutiny than you could ever imagine. It's a really big deal. Now at the other end of the spectrum, do we really need a Federal Judge to determine how to punish a young soldier for saying "Hey baby, give me some of that". Prior to the sixties, the military actually hung rapists, but has become too extreme, so we just put them away for life. I have toured the military prison at Fort Levenworth. Life in that prison is far less fun than at the Federal prison five miles down the road.
  • Strongly Liberal Democrat
    Democrat
    Portland, OR
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    RanmaMOJ Wrote: As such I have a hard time seeing it as a 'reaching pandemic levels' as Jared said. I would also like to know where he gets his figures as far as that goes... The DOD estimates that about there are about 19000 sexual assaults (not just rape) per year in the military. Just counting active duty there are about 1,369,532 service members. (There are about 850,880 reservists) that means that the rate (assuming each sexual assault is on a different person) is 1.3%. Hardly a pandemic.
    Your numbers are off by 7,000. (Here is a bullet point listing of the reports key findings.) And that was just an estimate by the military, hardly an organization that I would trust when it comes to determining an unbiased estimate of this. The actual number is unknown because many women do a cost-benefit analysis and come to the conclusion that its easier to stay quiet than go through the process, especially if it was one of her superiors that allegedly assaulted her.

    With regards to my verbiage, I should have actually said epidemic, not pandemic. I was obviously not being literal, which I would hope anyone would have easily understood. It's called a figure of speech. An example would be: "It's raining cats and dogs outside." I'm not saying that cats and dogs are literally falling out of the sky, but that it's raining heavily. And if we want to get very technical, the percentage of rapes that occur in the military hover around what would be considered an epidemic if rape were something that was contagious. I feel I should bold that last statement to make sure everyone knows I understand it's not a contagious disease.
  • Center Left
    Independent
    Central, FL
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    And these are the people who are paid to protect us ????????? Hell, they don't even protect their own. Quite the opposite it would appear. Is this a sign that we have our weakest links in uniform with the task of ensuring safety and order ? It sure make me wonder how this group can have such negative statistics against them. pitiful, shameful.