The House Armed Services Committee on Wednesday voted to establish a pilot program to change the sexual assault prosecution system at U.S. military academies.
The amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act, introduced by California Democrat Rep. Jackie Speier, is intended to allow victims in the ranks to report sexual assault “without fear or receipt of discipline” if they were in possession of alcohol, accused of consensual fraternization, or seen in an off-limits area.
The existing policy does not protect victims if they are in violation of these circumstances. Ms. Speier cited that as a reason many victims do not report sexual assault.
Rep. Mike Turner, Ohio Republican, opposed the program, arguing it would limit the role of commanders and prosecutors who would oversee the report. He called instead for a report to assess “the roles and effectiveness of commanders at all levels in the military justice sexual assault prosecutions.”
The panel passed Ms. Speier’s amendment by a 30-27 vote.
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