Turner, Tsongas Unveil New Military Sexual Assault Legislation
WASHINGTON, DC – April 10, 2014 – Today, Congressman Mike Turner (R-OH) and Congresswoman Niki Tsongas (D-MA) co-chairs of the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus, introduced new legislation to combat military sexual assault.
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.
“In 2007, the military did not recognize sexual assault as a crime," said Congressman Turner. “Since that time, Congresswoman Tsongas and I have diligently worked to pass reforms that change this deep-rooted and flawed culture. The FAIR Military Act is another powerful step toward the elimination of sexual assault in the military. This legislation confronts failures in our current system and takes specific action in the areas of prevention, protection, and prosecution."
“Accountability begins at the top and must extend across the military, to every rank and position. This legislation ensures our military leaders, servicemembers and the military justice system, are held to the highest standard,” said Congresswoman Tsongas. “And no more will the ‘good soldier’ defense run interference for criminal behavior and prevent the finder of fact from arriving at justice. Military sexual assault is a multifaceted challenge that requires continued, meaningful reforms. The FAIR Military Act is another step towards eradicating these crimes and changing the toxic culture that has allowed them to continue for too long.”
The Service Women’s Action Network voiced support for the FAIR Military Act. "Today, Representatives Michael Turner and Niki Tsongas introduced the FAIR Military Act because sexual harassment and assault do not belong in the workplace or our military," said SWAN policy director and former Marine Greg Jacob. "This legislation creates documented, professional repercussions for officers and enlisted members who create toxic climates in which these crimes are tacitly accepted and prevents those that commit these crimes from allowing facts such as their 'general military character' to let them off the hook."
Several of the provisions in the FAIR Military Act passed the Senate 97-0 as part of a bill authored by Senator Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Senator Kelly Ayotte (R-NH).
Rep. Mike Turner (OH-10)
Office: (202) 225-6465
Cell: (202) 450-7398