Hoeven: Senate Passes Strong Measure to Help Protect Victims of Sexual Assault in the Military

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today voted to pass the Victims Protection Act introduced by Senators Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) and Deb Fischer (R-Neb.) to address sexual assault in the military. The measure passed with a large bipartisan majority, 97 to 0.

“The bill we passed today strengthens the procedures used to report and prosecute sexual assault in the military,” Hoeven said. “It includes new measures to protect victims and gives them a greater voice in whether their cases are handled by military or civilian courts. Most importantly, it gets to the heart of the problem, which is making it easier for victims to report sexual assault and harder for anyone to overturn a conviction. The McCaskill-Ayotte-Fischer legislation achieves both of these goals.”

The legislation includes a number of military-assault provisions introduced by Ayotte and cosponsored by Hoeven in the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA), such as the following:

  • Does not allow commanders to overturn convictions,
  • Requires civilian review if a commander declines to prosecute a case and
  • Assigns a Special Victims Counsel to represent victims of sexual assault.

The McCaskill-Ayotte-Fischer legislation strengthens the provisions in the NDAA, with additions, such as:

  • Does not allow the “good soldier” defense for those accused of assault,
  • Gives victims expanded input on whether or not their case is pursued in military or civilian court and
  • Provides a confidential opportunity for discharged service members to gain reviews of alleged past instances of retaliation against victims.