Senators renew push on military sexual assault cases


A bipartisan group of senators yesterday renewed a push to overhaul the military’s handling of sexual assault cases, even to the point of blocking Obama’s nominee as secretary of Defense over the issue.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has been working for much of the past two years for the military to shift authority for prosecuting sexual assault cases to an independent prosecutor instead of top commanders, prompted by a sharp increases in reports of such crimes.

Pentagon leaders have insisted Gillibrand’s plan would weaken the chain of command and that officers should have more responsibility, not less, for addressing sex crimes.

But the plan’s backers say the current system failed to stop an epidemic of 26,000 assault cases reported in a 2012 survey, and can leave victims open to retaliation by commanders unhappy that they reported assaults.


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