Dear Mrs. Mohr:
Thank you for contacting me regarding sexual assault in the military. I appreciate
the time you took to write, and I welcome the opportunity to respond.
According to the Department of Defense, an estimated 26,000 cases of sexual
assault occurred in 2012, up from 19,000 incidents in 2010. This includes 12,100
women assaulted (6.1 percent of women on active duty) and 13,900 men assaulted
(1.2 percent of men on active duty). A separate report released by the Department
in April showed that more than 1 in 5 female servicemembers reported unwanted
sexual contact while serving in the military.
I believe that we need a zero-tolerance policy for sexual assault and violence in our
Armed Forces. Given the inadequacy of previous military efforts to address the
growing number of sexual assaults, I believe Congressional action is necessary to
reform the military justice system by removing prosecutorial discretion from the
chain of command and by eliminating the ability of Commanding Officers to overturn
I am an original cosponsor of the “Military Justice Improvement Act of 2013” (S. 967),
which was introduced by Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) on May 16, 2013. This bill,
which is currently awaiting consideration by the Senate Committee on Armed Services, would:
- Require commanding officers to immediately report a sexual assault to the proper
- Transfer prosecutorial discretion for most serious crimes, including rape and sexual
assault, from commanding officers to independent military prosecutors;
- Transfer the authority and discretion to establish courts, empanel juries, and choose
trial judges from commanding officers to the offices of the Service Chiefs of Staff
(Convening Authority); and
- Eliminate the ability of the convening authority to overturn convictions or change a
conviction to a lesser offense.
I am also a cosponsor of the “Combating Military Sexual Assault Act of 2013” (S. 871), which
was introduced by Senator Patty Murray (D-WA) on May 7, 2013. This bill would provide
additional protections and resources to victims of sexual assault; mandate the referral of
sexual assault cases to a felony-level court-martial; and enhance the authority of the military’s
Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. S. 871 is currently awaiting consideration by the
Senate Committee on Armed Services.
Please know that I am deeply concerned by the continued prevalence of sexual assault in the military,
and I am committed to seeing that Congress enacts meaningful reforms to the military justice system
to better protect victims and to properly prosecute and punish assailants.
Once again, thank you for writing, and I hope that you will continue to keep me informed about issues
of importance to you. Should you have any further comments or questions, please feel free to contact
my Washington, D.C. office at (202) 224-3841, or visit my website at www.feinstein.senate.gov.
United States Senator
Further information about my position on issues of concern to California and the nation are available
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