Congressman Mike Turner (R-OH-10) and Congresswoman Susan Davis (D-CA-53), co-chairs of the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus, introduced today the Sexual Trauma Ongoing Protections (STOP) Act of 2019 to improve protections for victims of sexual assault in the military.
“This bill is a strong step forward in continuing to improve the safety of our men and women in uniform and the culture of the military,” said Turner. “The Department of Defense has come a long way in its handling of military sexual assault since my constituent, U.S. Marine Maria Lauterbach, reported her sexual assault, was reportedly denied a base transfer, and was murdered by her assaulter. However, each year, we learn of additional loopholes in our protections for military sexual assault victims--loopholes that can have tragic consequences. As such, we are continuing to address these issues directly through our bipartisan legislation. I want to thank Susan Davis for her partnership on this incredibly important issue for the safety of our troops.”
“The STOP Act is another important step towards reducing sexual assault in the military,” said Davis. “Through a collaborative, bipartisan process, the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus has worked to introduce this important legislation. I stand by our uniformed men and women who have sacrificed so much for our country. They deserve a safe working environment based on a culture of mutual respect and a system that promotes swift justice and supports survivors. I thank Congressman Turner for his partnership in this legislation and the caucus.”
This bill addresses the following issues:
- Command influence under the uniform code of military justice: Increases fairness of military judicial proceedings by addressing the Commander’s influence under the uniform code of military justice. This provision has been adopted into the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee mark of the Fiscal Year 2020 (FY20) National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA).
- Annual report on military protective orders: Requires a report identifying the number of military protective orders issued and the number of military protective orders reported to the appropriate civilian authorities in the preceding calendar year. This is a direct result of the Sutherland Springs shooting, in which the Air Force failed to report the assault committed by the eventual shooter in the Texas church massacre. This provision has also been included in the Military Personnel Subcommittee mark for the FY20 NDAA.
- Consideration of application for transfer for a student of a military service academy who is the victim of a sexual assault or related offense: Requires the military service secretaries to establish regulations for the timely consideration of an application for transfer of a military service academy student who is the victim of sexual assault. This is an extension of the work the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus has been working on since its founding when U.S. Marine Maria Lauterbach was reportedly denied a military base transfer after reporting being sexually assaulted. Lauterbach was later murdered by her assaulter. This provision has been included in the Military Personnel Subcommittee mark for the FY20 NDAA.
- Timely disposition of non-prosecutable sex related offenses: If the sex-related offense initial disposition authority determines there is insufficient evidence to prosecute the sex-related offense and refers the case back to a subordinate commander for other appropriate action on other known offenses, to include administrative action, the bill requires the subordinate commander to take such action on the other offenses no later than 90 days after receiving the case. This provision was recommended by a panel convened by the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus.
- Victim preference in restricted reporting of sexual assault: Directs Department of Defense (DoD) to develop a policy that protects victims’ ability to file a restricted report if their sexual assault allegation is inadvertently disclosed or a third party report arises. This provision is designed to protect the privacy of victims of sexual assault in the military and was recommended by the DoD Sexual Assault Accountability and Investigation Task Force.
- Extension of Defense Advisory Committee on Investigation, Prosecution, and Defense of Sexual Assault (DAC-IPAD) in the Armed Forces: Extends DAC-IPAD by five years. The Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus has expanded the authority of DAC-IPAD in past years. This provision has been included in the Military Personnel Subcommittee mark for the FY20 NDAA.
- Report on guardian ad litem for child victims of sexual assault: Directs DAC-IPAD to study and report on the need for a mechanism within the military court-martial process to represent minors that are victims of sexual assault within the military.