A bill to stop military commanders from overturning sexual assault convictions has a “good chance” of passing Congress, according to one of the bills co-sponsors.
Congressman Bruce Braley, D-Iowa, talked about the legislation on Jansing & Co.
“We had an enormous amount of support, bipartisan House and Senate, we were just out at the Pentagon two weeks ago, getting a briefing on the incredible progress they claim to have made and trying to reduce the alarming level of sexual assaults in the military,” Braley said.
The legislation would strip military commanders of the ability to overturn convictions handed down by judges and juries. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel just ordered a review of one high-profile case in particular. Lt. Col. James Wilkerson, a top pilot in the Air Force was found guilty of sexual assault and sentenced to one year in prison. But, Lt. Gen. Craig A. Franklin was able to overturn the conviction.
“This decision by this Supervising General just turns justice on it’s head. When he appointed an all male jury, which convicted the Lt. Col. of sexual assault and punished him according to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, and then turned around and reversed that decision…and basically granted him a pardon and recommended him for a promotion, in a decision that’s not reviewable by the Secretary of Defense or the Commander-in-Chief, it’s easy to understand why so many people are cynical about the progress made in addressing this serious problem.”
The Pentagon estimates 19,000 service members are sexually assaulted every year , but only 3,191 incidents were reported in 2011.
Wednesday, the Senate Armed Service committee will hold a hearing about sexual assaults, where victims testified about their experiences.