Congressman Mike Turner, Co-Chair of the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus, and co-sponsor of  Better Enforcement for Sexual Assault Free Environments Act of 2013 (BE SAFE) Act, released the following statement following the Department of Defense briefing regarding the new sexual assault prevention and response initiatives:

“I am pleased to see the Department of Defense’s announcement of seven initiatives to address sexual assault in our military. Additionally, I am pleased that Secretary Hagel has chosen to model these initiatives after the “BE SAFE ACT,” which I introduced along with Rep. Niki Tsongas (MA-03). While there is still much work to be done, these initiatives and the “BE SAFE ACT” serve as an important first step to ensuring the protection of victims, prosecution of those responsible, and prevention of future criminal acts.

Of the seven initiatives included in the Secretary Hagel’s announcement, five were originally crafted as part of the “BE SAFE ACT” and House passed National Defense Authorization Act (HR 1960) for FY2014. These five initiatives include:

-        Creating a legal advocacy program in each military service that will provide legal representation to sexual assault victims throughout the judicial process;

-        Providing commanders with options to reassign or transfer a member who is accused of committing a sexual assault or related offense in order to eliminate continued contact while respecting the rights of both victims and the accused;

-        Requiring timely follow-up reports on sexual assault incidents and responses to be given to the first general or flag officer within the chain of command;

-        Standardizing prohibitions on inappropriate behavior between recruiters and trainers and their recruits and trainees across the Department, and;

-        Developing and proposing changes to the Manual for Courts-Martial that would allow victims to give input during the sentencing phase of courts-martial.

I am glad to see that the Secretary is taking the issue of sexual assault seriously, and I look forward to working with him as we move forward.”