New figures from the Defense Department show sexual assault in the military is increasing, and that the vast majority of cases are going unreported. As WYSO’s Emily McCord reports Republican Congressman Mike Turner of Ohio’s 10th district is proposing legislation to encourage victims to come forward.
At the same time that the military is implementing prevention programs, a Pentagon survey has found that sexual assault cases have risen by a third in a year. Of the 26,000 people that were victims of sexual violence, only 3400 actually reported it. Congressman Mike Turner is cosponsoring bipartisan legislation called the "Be Safe Act". It would prohibit military chain of command from setting aside cases of sexual assault and it would require that if a service member were convicted of the crime, that they be thrown out of the military. Turner says victims often face retaliation for reporting sexual assault, and hopes new laws will help assure that a conviction will stand.
"This is most egregious of crimes and people who serve our nation shouldn’t be at risk from those that they serve with," says Turner. "The culture in the military clearly is wrong and it needs to be changed so that our service members can be safe."
Turner says he wants the proposal to be included in a defense policy bill that will be considered in the summer. This comes just days after an Air Force official and Ohio native was arrested and charged with sexual battery. He was the chief of the Air Force Sexual Assault Prevention and Response branch.