Washington, D.C. – Last week, Congressman Mike Turner, Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, introduced H.R. 3360, a bill to reform the Article 32 investigative process of the Uniform Code of Military Justice to protect military sexual assault survivors through meaningful reforms.
“It is time to stop putting sexual assault victims on trial,” said Turner. “This legislation is long overdue and marks another positive and constructive step toward ensuring that survivors of sexual assault are protected from revictimization as they work through the process to have their attackers brought to justice. Recent cases have demonstrated that inadequacies in the current system leave military sexual assault survivors extremely unprotected and exposed to further revictimization and character assassination.”
H.R. 3360 specifically aims to limit the scope of the investigation to a probable cause determination of the alleged offenses, require more experienced investigating officers preside over the investigation, and to provide stronger protections for trauma and sexual assault survivors so that they do not suffer more revictimization because of their willingness to participate in the military justice process.
“The current Article 32 process is drastically in need of reform,” Turner continues. “Unfortunately, this pretrial hearing has turned into a “mini-trial” in which the victim is often victimized and discouraged from further participating in the prosecution process. Too often in military sexual assault cases, as evident from the recent United States Naval Academy case, survivors of sexual assaults are subjected to irrelevant, grueling and degrading cross-examinations and defense tactics designed to cause embarrassment and intimidate them from participating in the prosecution of these crimes.”
Turner’s reforms to the Article 32 process will specifically achieve the following:
(1) Limit the scope of the investigation to a probable cause determination of the alleged offense(s);
(2) Require that an experienced judge advocate be assigned as the investigating officer;
(3) Allow the victim of a crime to personally elect not to attend and subject themselves to questioning and cross-examination at the investigatory hearing; and
(4) Establish a governmental discovery requirement to provide certain evidentiary materials and documents to the accused and defense counsel prior to the Article 32 hearing.
Turner has worked tirelessly to combat the issue of sexual assault within the military and to ensure both that victims are cared for and that perpetrators are brought to justice and held accountable for their crimes.