Defense Secretary Lloyd Austin backs change in military sex assault prosecution – Fresno, California

Fresno, California 2021-06-22 19:39:42 –

Secretary of Defense Lloyd Austin said on Tuesday that he supported a long-controversial change to the military judicial system that would remove the decision to prosecute a sexual assault case from a military commander.

In a statement obtained by the Associated Press, Austin said he supported keeping these sexual assault-related crimes away from the chain of command and had independent military lawyers handle them. The Pentagon has long resisted such changes, but Austin and other senior leaders slowly admit that the military was unable to make progress against sexual assault, and how many. I need to change that.

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Austin promised to work with Congress to make changes, saying that “it gives the department a real opportunity to finally end the sexual assault and sexual harassment tragedy in the army.” His public support for the shift is coveted, giving strong cues to the military and boosting momentum for change.

The statement was issued the day before Austin testified to the House Military Commission amid increasing pressure from Congress to take concrete steps to combat sexual assault. However, Austin’s memo does not express his view on the law, which makes extensive changes to the military legal system and requires independent lawyers to handle all major crimes.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (DN.Y.) has received the support of 66 Senators on a bill that would require an independent prosecutor to handle a felony requiring imprisonment for at least one year. However, other major lawmakers and military leaders are hesitant to include all major crimes, and depriving the commander of all crimes would undermine military readiness and command. He states that public authority could be compromised and much more time and resources could be required.

So far, Austin has publicly stated that he is ready to accept the changes recommended by an independent review board appointed to investigate sexual assault and harassment in the military. The Panel said sexual assault, sexual assault, domestic violence, stalking, retaliation, child sexual assault, and illegal distribution of photographs should be removed from the chain of command.

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In a statement, Austin finally announced that he supported the change and said that those additional crimes should be included as there is a strong correlation between them and the epidemic of sexual assault. .. According to defense officials, Austin reserves for the broader changes outlined in the Gillibrand bill, as well as those expressed by his senior leaders. The official discussed personal conversations on condition of anonymity.

In recent weeks, military secretaries and chiefs have stated in a memo to Austin and a letter to Capitol Hill that they are wary of changes in sexual assault, and about a broader renewal of the military’s judicial system. Showed a larger reservation.

General Mark Milley, chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said that excluding the commander from the prosecution’s decision was “preparation between the commander and them, accomplishment of missions, order and discipline, justice, unity, trust, and loyalty. May have a negative impact on. ” lead. “

In a letter to Senator James Inhof of Oklahoma, who ranks Republicans on the Senate Military Commission, Millie admitted that the army has not made sufficient progress in the fight against sexual assault. He said repeatedly, but he is open to changes in sexual assault.

An independent review panel on Monday presented Austin with an extensive set of recommendations for combating sexual assault in the military, including prevention, command environment, and victim care and support.

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“In general, they seem strong and well-founded,” Austin said in a statement. “I instructed the staff to do a detailed evaluation and implementation plan for review and approval.”

Austin said he would offer his nomination to President Joe Biden in the coming days. But he also said the change would require additional personnel, funding and authorities. He said that what could be done under existing authority would take precedence, other changes could take longer, and would require Congressional support.

“This is a leadership issue, as I revealed in my first full day in office, and we lead,” he said. “Our people depend on it. They are worth more.”

In a recent interview with AP, Gillibrand said broader changes were needed to combat racial injustice in the military.

Gillibrand opposed limiting changes to sexual assault and said he would set up what is called a “pink” court to deal with crimes that are discriminatory and usually involve female victims. ..

“I’m deeply concerned that if they were limited to sexual assault, it would really hurt female military personnel. It further alienated and further weakened them, and they treated them specially. It will be considered receiving, “she told AP. ..

Copyright © 2021 By AP communication. all rights reserved.

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