Military sexual assault prosecutions need reform, Gillibrand says

May 25, 2016

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand said sexual misconduct remains a destructive force in the armed forces and military communities. With a bipartisan group of senators on Tuesday, she called on the Senate to pass a measure that she says targets the inherent conflicts of interest that exist in the military justice system and the way it prosecutes sexual assault cases.

In a Washington, DC news conference, Gillibrand said there still has not been enough progress in dealing with those cases in the military.

“We know far more now about the extent of the military’s sexual assault problem than we did a year ago, and it’s clear that nothing has changed despite the military’s claim that things are getting better," she said. "The military continues to say, we got this, we got this, well, it’s not shown in the data, it’s not shown in the survivor’s testimony, it’s not shown in seeing justice being done.”

This week Gillibrand released a report looking at more than 300 sexual assault cases that occurred in 2014 at bases in the United States. She said she found a "troubling command culture'' that seems to favor closing cases over pursuing justice and leaves victims vulnerable to retaliation.

"Our survivors still don’t have the confidence they need in our broken military justice system, and until that changes, until we finally pass these bipartisan reforms, I urge everyone here to keep speaking out about this problem and demanding the change,” she said.

Gillibrand's proposal for changes was first introduced in 2013, but failed to meet a filibuster threshold. There was no immediate response from the Defense Department.