Military to See Big Changes in Assault Prosecution

Military to See Big Changes in Assault Prosecution

( – For years, lawmakers in Washington, DC, have been grappling with how to handle the epidemic of sexual assault cases in the military. Between 2016 to 2018, these assaults increased by 38% despite efforts by the military to decrease sex crimes. The problem was catapulted back into the spotlight in 2020, when Fort Hood soldier, Spc. Vanessa Guillen was allegedly murdered by a fellow soldier. There were allegations that her murderer assaulted or harassed her previously but she was afraid to speak out. Now, the military is trying to make changes.

On Tuesday, June 22, Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin said he’s going to support efforts to take decisions about what sexual assault cases to prosecute out of the hands of military commanders. The changes will allow independent military lawyers to handle the cases instead. Austin’s announcement comes the same week House lawmakers introduced the Vanessa Guillen Military Justice Improvement and Increasing Prevention Act. The bipartisan bill hopes to make the changes to the military permanent.

Not everyone supports the legislation, though. Joint Chiefs Chairman Gen. Mark Milley said he thinks the bill goes too far and can have an “adverse effect on readiness….trust and loyalty between commanders and those they lead.”

In 2020, former President Donald Trump invited Guillen’s family to the White House. At the time he promised that he would do everything he could to help her family. A year later, it looks like her family, and all of the other victims of military sexual assault might see the changes they’ve been asking for.

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