House Passes Defense Bill with Braley Provisions Strengthening Protections for Sexual Assault Victims in Military PDF Print E-mail
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Written by Jeff Giertz   
Monday, 19 December 2011 16:13

Push for improved sexual assault protections attracted bipartisan support 

 

Washington, DC – Several provisions introduced by Rep. Bruce Braley (IA-01) to strengthen protections for victims of sexual assault who serve in the military were included in the FY 2012 National Defense Authorization Act that passed the US House last night.

 

“The current system for preventing sexual assault in the military doesn’t work,” Braley said.  “Stronger protections for victims of sexual assault in the military are badly needed.   Today’s vote is the culmination of months of hard work by a bipartisan group of citizens and legislators committed to improving protections for women who serve in the military.”

 

In March, Braley introduced the Support for Survivors Act, requiring the Defense Department to ensure the secure storage of all documents connected with reports of sexual assaults and sexual harassment across the military branches. The bill would also prevent the military from destroying any records relating to sexual assault.

 

In April, Braley introduced the Holly Lynn James Act to strengthen the legal process for addressing claims of domestic violence and sexual assault in the military and to improve policies to prevent sexual assault.  The bill is named after Holly Lynn James, a constituent of Braley’s, was murdered by her husband when both served in the military.  James had filed complaints against her husband, and he was supposed to be restricted to his barracks the night he killed her.

Braley’s legislation attracted bipartisan supporters in the House and Senate.  Reps. Ted Poe (R-TX), Chellie Pingree (D-ME),                 Louise Slaughter (D-NY) co-sponsored the Holly Lynn James Act and the Support for Survivors Act in the House; in the Senate, Senators Amy Klobuchar (D-MN), Susan Collins (R-ME), Lisa Murkowski (R-AK), and Claire McCaskill (D-ME) were co-sponsors of the Support for Survivors Act.

After months of negotiations, several provisions from the Support for Survivors and Holly Lynn James acts were included in the Defense Authorization Act.

Specific new protections included in the Defense Authorization Act include:

  • Access to Counsel. Provides military victims of sexual assault advocates and the ability to confidentially consult with military legal counsel within 72 hours of a crime being committed.

 

  • Improved Training for Service Members. Improves training for service members to prevent sexual assault.  Requires larger numbers of sexual assault prevention coordinators to provide guidance to military units.

 

  • Elevates the Importance of Sexual Assault Prevention. Language elevates the director of the Sexual Assault Prevention Office to the flag officer level.

 

  • Improved Preservation of Evidence. Requires Defense Department to work with the Veterans Administration to  preserve documentary evidence of sexual assault for victims’ purposes.

 

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