Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri on Wednesday hailed a key vote endorsing a series of reforms aimed at cracking down on sexual assaults in the military.
After the hearing, McCaskill told reporters that the changes represent “some of the most aggressive and historic reforms that the military code of justice has ever seen.
“It is going to dramatically change the way these cases are handled (and) the support these victims get,” she said. “I believe this is the absolutely strongest system we can devise.”
The vote, by the Senate Armed Services Committee, included provisions that will:
• Strip commanders of their authority to dismiss court martial convictions for most offenses, including rape and sexual assault.
• Make it a punishable offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice to retailiate against a victim who reports a criminal offense.
• Require a commander, when serving as a convening authority in a military court martial, to provide written justification for any modifications made to a sentence.
• Require that a person found guilty of an offense of rape, sexual assault, forcible sodomy, or an attempt to commit any of those offenses receive a punishment that includes, at a minimum, a dismissal or dishonorable discharge.
• Eliminate the five-year statute of limitations for sexual assault and sexual assault of a child.
“Sexual assault survivors deserve justice to see the perpetrators of these crimes put behind bars,” McCaskill said. “And with the inclusion of these historic provisions, we’re one step closer to making that a reality.
“The courageous men and women in our military deserve a system where a jury’s justice in a sexual assault case can never be undone unilaterally, without explanation, by the stroke of a pen.”