Sen. Jim In
hofe (R-Okla.) doesn’t see a problem with the way the military handles an epidemic of sexual assault.Despite an Air Force general recently overturning a sexual assault conviction, Inhofe believes the military’s handling of such cases “is not a serious problem.”
In the military justice system, commanders have the ultimate authority to accept or reject a jury verdict. According to research done by his staff, Inhofe said times when top leaders have overturned a sexual abuse case were in single digits across all the military branches, The Hill reports.
“I’m going to put this into the record, but … it sounds to me like there is not a serious problem here,” Inhofe said Tuesday during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing.
“The commander needs the ability to punish quickly, locally, and visibly, which impacts the overall discipline of the force,” he added.
Inhofe’s comments come in sharp contrast to the views of Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.), who recently introduced legislation to strip commander’s authority in sexual assault cases.
“[There are] 19,000 rapes and sexual assaults that the [Department of defence] admits take place every year,” Speier said in an Apr. 17 press conference to introduce the Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention Act.
While many are never reported, the ones that are investigated hardly ever move forward. Of 3,192 cases reported in 2010, she said, only 191 saw convictions. “This should be an alarming figure to everyone.”
Addressing Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno and Army Secretary John McHugh, Inhofe said, “we trust you with our son’s and daughter’s lives, but we don’t trust you or your discretion when it comes to [sexual assault] offenses.”
But while commander’s may be trusted with the lives of their troops, Speier doesn’t think that makes them well-trained lawyers.
“That is not justice,” Rep. Speier said, flanked by sexual assault victims. “This general [who overturned a sexual assault case] is not a lawyer. He has no legal training. This general never sat one hour in the courtroom.”
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