The Military's Plan To Reform Its Response To Sex Crimes Likely Will Take Years To Enact
Speaker 1: 00:00 The defense department estimates 20,000 sexual assaults happen in the military each year, but only about 1%. And in convictions, president Biden and defense secretary, Lloyd Austin have endorsed major and how those cases are handled. But reforms likely will take years frame reports from the American home front Speaker 2: 00:21 When troops are sexually assaulted or harassed, they often face a daunting path to justice. If they choose to report the attack, their commander decides whether the case goes to trial and what the accused service member is charged with. But critics say that's a problem because commanders aren't legal experts. In many cases, they're also colleagues or friends of the alleged perpetrator junior Speaker 3: 00:42 Enlisted service members do not trust their leaders to handle these problems. They don't trust that there will be accountability for sexual assault in particular Speaker 2: 00:53 And fall an advocate for survivors of gender violence, chaired an independent commission that looked at possible fixes. It recommended that cases be handled by independent prosecutors. Speaking on the PBS news hour, Rosenthal said those would be military lawyers who specialize in sexual harassment and assault by Speaker 3: 01:11 Moving the technical legal decisions about whether or not to, uh, charge a suspect with a crime, and then whether or not to send that case to trial independent, prosecutors are better able to make those decisions. And we hope to see a restored trust within the military Speaker 2: 01:29 Secretary of defense Lloyd, Austin has endorsed the commission's report. He's also embraced a broader goal of changing the culture of the military and providing more resources for victims, but that will likely mean hiring a lot of people and developing a new framework for the thousands of sexual assault and harassment complaints. The military receives each year Congress and the defense department will have to find the money and change. Military law. Lori Manning is with the service women's action network. Speaker 4: 01:56 My concern is that by the time it goes through the congressional, a meat grinder and the interpretation of, uh, well now what six different military services on what the report says and what Congress did two, it says and how they implemented this a lot that can go wrong. You can have a map to California and ended up in Delaware. Speaker 2: 02:19 The reforms also have to overcome resistance from within the Pentagon, despite Austin's announcement, the military service chiefs have been reluctant to take sex abuse cases out of the chain of command. They argue it would erode good order and discipline and take an important responsibility away from leaders. Don Christiansen, president of the advocacy group protect our defenders says reform efforts won't succeed without their buy-in. Speaker 5: 02:43 A lot of this is going to depend on the attitude of leadership in the military. If I were president Biden, I'd be calling the members of joint chiefs of staff and, and say, this is important to me. I am your commander and chief get on board, make it clear the force. This is going to, and that you support it with Speaker 2: 03:01 All the work that lies ahead. The new rules likely won't be in place until at least 2023 Manning says in the meantime, victims of sexual assault and harassment still have to work through their chain of command. Speaker 4: 03:11 We may see some changes with commanders right away, because they, they know they're being watched a lot closer than they were. But I think we have to get the message out to those who are thinking about reporting it that Hey, the old system is in place until it's not under that Speaker 2: 03:28 Old system. Many people choose not to report because they're afraid of retaliation or they worry crimes won't be properly investigated. And Manning says with new rules on the horizon, some may choose to wait in hopes that their cases will be taken more seriously. This is Carson frame reporting.