A bipartisan group of Congressmen today introduced a bill to strip military prosecutors of the authority to investigate and prosecute sexual assault cases, saying the Lackland sex with recruits scandal and other cases have proven that the Uniform Code of Military Justice is not capable of providing justice to victims, 1200 WOAI news reports.
U.S. Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Ca) says of 19,000 sexual assault cases each year in the active duty military, only 3200 victims came forward in 2010, and of those, fewer than 200 were actually court martialed.
"The STOP Act will help end the epidemic of sexual assault in our military," said Nancy Parrish, President of the activist group Protect Our Defenders. "We applaud Republicans and Democrats for coming together to protect our service men and women."
She said the epidemic of military sexual assault is a 'national embarrassment.'
"Congress established the UCMJ and has civilian oversight," she said. "The miltiary process is essentially equivalent to allowing the Mayor, Governor or President to decide whether or not to charge and prosecute the accused, carefully select a jury, then lessen a sentence or override an outcome if the result is not what they desire."
Speier and Parrish are outraged by a case last fall at Aviano Air Base Italy where a commanding general overturned the sexual assault conviction of a pilot who was a close friend, rejecting the sentence that he be removed from the Air Force.
The UCJM respects a base or post commander's ultimate authority, and gives that officer complete jurisdiction on who to charge with crimes, and whether to accept court martial verdicts.
The groups are also calling for the general, and the pilot, to be removed from the Air Force.