Hoeven Supports Legislation to Help Protect Victims of Sexual Assault in the Military

WASHINGTON – Senator John Hoeven today supported 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.

“Sexual assault is a heinous crime and needs to be prosecuted to the full extent of the law, in the military as in civilian life,” Hoeven said. “The legislation crafted by Senators McCaskill, Ayotte and Fischer 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 to 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.

A competing bill that would have removed decisions about prosecutions for felony-level crimes, including sexual assaults, from the chain of command structure failed to get enough votes to advance. The McCaskill-Ayotte-Fischer legislation advanced 100 to 0, and will be taken up by the Senate next week.