Washington, DC— Today, Congressman Mike Turner, co-chair of the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus and Chairman of the House Armed Services Committee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, released the following statement following a briefing from the Department of Defense (DOD) on their annual report on sexual assault in the military:

“Today’s briefing from Department of Defense reaffirms the severity of this problem.

I was encouraged to see that there has been a rise in reporting, signifying that the reforms we have made in recent years are making a visible difference and helping to make victims feel protected.

Despite that progress, it remains deeply troubling that these heinous crimes are still occurring against both men and women in our military.

Clearly, our work is not done. We must continue to take specific action in the areas of prevention, protection, and prosecution.

Rep. Niki Tsongas (D-MA) and I recently introduced the Furthering Accountability and Individual Rights within the Military Act of 2014 (FAIR Military Act).

This bill creates documented, professional consequences for service members that perpetuate the toxic culture that facilitates these crimes and removes the ability of the ‘good solider’ defense to run interference in the pursuit justice.

We will continue to fight on a bipartisan basis to eradicate sexual assault in our military.”

The Furthering Accountability and Individual Rights within the Military Act of 2014 (FAIR Military Act) supports survivors, eliminates a bias in the military justice system and increases accountability among all levels of the military.

The FAIR Military Act:

- Limits the use of the “good soldier” defense, which allows a defendant to cite unrelated, subjective factors during trial, such as military record;

- Requires that commanders be assessed on their ability to create a climate where a victim can report a crime without fear of retaliation;

- Requires that commanders and servicemembers be assessed on their support of sexual assault prevention and response policies;

- Ensures that the changes and provisions regarding military sexual assault prevention from the FY14 Defense Authorization apply to the military service academies;

- Requires the Government Accountability Office to issue a report on the implementation of sexual assault prevention policies put in place by Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel as well as the sexual assault prevention provisions put in place by the FY13 and FY14 Defense Authorizations;

- Ensures that an independent panel will look at how the mental health records of victims are admitted into evidence at trial and whether changes should be made to the military rules of evidence.