United States: Senate Armed Service Committee Attempts to Change Sexual Harassment Response Procedure
Wednesday, June 19, 2013 1:25 PM

On June 11, 2013 Senate Armed Service Committee Chairman Carl Levin (D-MI) removed a proposed provision challenging sexual assault in the military from the current defense spending bill. The provision, proposed by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY), transfers to military prosecutors the responsibility of selecting which reports of sexual assault will be tried. Currently, this task is designated to commanders, leaving sexual assault response firmly rooted in the chain of command. As a result, in the year 2012, only 13% of an estimated 26,000 sexual assault cases in the military were reported and only 1.2% of all estimated cases were prosecuted.
Levin plans to propose a replacement provision that requires all assault cases that commanders decide not to prosecute be passed on to senior military officers for assessment. This proposal, however, changes little from the current policy as it maintains the chain of command.
The proposed legislation, while currently removed from the defense spending bill, maintains its support with 27 co-sponsors, including four Republican Senators. Gillibrand plans to re-propose the provision for the final vote on the overall bill.