Ohio Congressman Seeks MPO Reforms and Calls for Further Review
WASHINGTON, D.C. - The House Armed Services Committee passed two amendments last night sponsored by Ohio Congressman Michael Turner (OH-03) as a result of the case of Marine Lance Corporal Maria Lauterbach who was allegedly raped and murdered by fellow Marine Corporal Cesar Laurean.
“For months, Mary Lauterbach and I have been working together to review the system which left her daughter vulnerable to the tragedy which befell her. I was pleased that my colleagues on the Committee agreed that the Military Protective Orders currently in use by the military do not provide sufficient protection to our men and women in uniform. Several members of the Committee who met with Mary Lauterbach and others familiar with Maria’s case understood the need for change,” Rep. Turner said. “I believe we need a comprehensive review of sexual assaults in the military. Once that review is complete, I expect more extensive changes to military laws and policies will be recommended.”
Congressman Turner’s amendments were accepted by the House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday, May 14, 2008 as part of consideration of the FY 2009 Defense Authorization Bill. Rep. Turner’s amendments are:
1) Military Protective Orders should not expire when during an ongoing investigation (in the case of LCpl Lauterbach, the MPO was renewed in four times and lapsed between December 24, 2007 and January 7, 2008);
2) When a Military Protective Order is issued, local civilian authorities should be notified (according to the Marine Corps, there is no system to notify civilian authorities of the presence of an MPO. In addition, LCpl Lauterbach was not advised to seek a civil protective order)
On March 11, 2008, at the request of the Lauterbach family, Congressman Turner submitted questions to General James T. Conway, Commandant of the U.S. Marine Corps, about the handling of the murder and rape investigation by Marine officials. On March 31, Lt. Gen. R. S. Kramlich, Director of Marine Corps Staff, submitted responses to Congressman Turner’s letter. In April, Rep. Turner hosted meetings for Mary Lauterbach, the mother of Maria Lauterbach, with 19 Memebrs of Congress. On April 24, Rep. Turner sent a letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates calling for a Defense Department investigation of the handling of the rape and murder investigation by Marine Corps officials.
The FY09 Defense Authorization Bill passed the House Armed Services Committee with Congressman Turner’s support. The bill must pass the House and Senate in a final form before it can be sent to President Bush.