Senator Claire McCaskill's bill aimed at curbing sexual assault in the military got a green light from Senators this week. KSMU's Theresa Bettmann has details.
The measure would strengthen reforms that were in last year's annual defense bill, like preventing commanders from overturning jury convictions, giving victims their own independent lawyers, and making it a crime to retaliate against a victim who reported sexual assault.
Under McCaskill's bill, the "Good Soldier" defense for accused service members would be banned, and victims would also be allowed to have more input in their cases. McCaskill, a former prosecutor, says the goal is to empower victims of sexual assault and increase the number of prosecutions of offenders.
In a statement, the Democratic senator from Missouri said this debate has been about getting the policy right to protect and empower victims, and boost prosecutions of predators. “I believe we’re on the cusp of achieving that goal. The Senate has voted to strengthen even further what is now one of the most victim-friendly justice systems in the world.”
McCaskill added that she looks forward to continuing to “aggressively and vigilantly implement these reforms” to curb sexual assaults in the ranks.
The Senate rejected an alternative proposal by New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand that would have stripped senior commanders of their ability to launch courts-martial. Final passage of McCaskill's legislation is expected to take place on Monday night.