Congressman Turner Continues to Push for Military Sexual Assault Reforms in Compromised FY2014 NDAA

As Chairman of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces, I commend House and Senate Armed Services Committees colleagues on their continued efforts to pass the FY2014 National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA). With the 2014 calendar year quickly approaching and the Senate currently in a stall, Committee leaders from both bodies have negotiated a comprehensive version of the bill intended to move through Congress this week.

This year, I have continued my work with the House and Senate Armed Services Committees and the Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus to create further legislation to combat the issue of sexual assault within the military and ensure both that victims are cared for and that perpetrators are brought to justice and held accountable. Specifically, during the 113th Congressional Session, co-sponsor Rep. Niki Tsongas and I introduced the BE SAFE Act and the Article 32 Reform Act as well as the No Tolerance Act with Rep. Joe Heck. Most of the provisions from these three bills have been incorporated into the House version of the FY2014 NDAA.

These legislative initiatives are unprecedented and powerful steps toward the eradication of sexual assault in the military. These substantial bi-partisan reforms will enhance the rights of victims, strengthen military whistleblower protection laws, improve the ways in which the services respond to a sexual assault report, and ensure that perpetrators are appropriately held accountable and prosecuted for their crimes.

The provision in the FY2014 NDAA will:

  • Eliminate a Convening Authority’s ability to dismiss or modify a court-martial conviction for serious offenses, including rape or sexual assault; Require the Services to provide a detailed military counsel to survivors of sexual assault within the military to assist through the investigation and criminal process;
  • Guarantee that those convicted of sexual assault are, at a minimum, dishonorably discharged or dismissed from military service;
  • Limit the Article 32 preliminary investigation to a probable cause determination;
  • Abolish the five-year statute of limitations on Trial by Courts-Martial for sexual assault and sexual assault of a child;
  • Affirm the commander’s authority to consider the need for and provide for the temporary reassignment or removal of a service member who is accused of committing a sex-related crime from a from a unit in which the victim also works or from position of authority. 
  • Enhance protections for prospective members of the Armed Forces against sexual assault and unwanted sexual contact during entry-level processing and training.

These significant reforms offer considerable momentum toward changing the deep-rooted and flawed culture that has allowed sex crimes to pervade our armed forces. But they will not be the last. This bill is not a ceiling but rather a robust foundation upon which we will continue to build.



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