The bishops of the military will retain their grip on the prosecution or non-prosecution of sexual assault cases.
An ambitious bill seeking to stem the rise of sexual assaults in the military died Thursday after senators from both parties refused to limit the role of commanding officers in deciding whether to prosecute such cases.
Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) pushed the issue to prominence during this congressional session, arguing on behalf of victims who testified that they feared retaliation for pressing assault allegations up the military chain of command. Her bill — which won support from 17 of the 20 women in the Senate — would have shifted sexual assault investigations to military prosecutors.
Instead senators advanced a competing bill sponsored by Sen. Claire McCaskill (D-Mo.), who agreed with military brass that removing commanders from investigations would undermine their authority with troops.
And failing to prosecute sexual assault won’t undermine their authority with troops? Which troops are we talking about? Are we assuming that most of the troops are sexual assaulters or fans of sexual assault? Are we assuming that a permissive attitude toward sexual assault is a majority view in the military? If so…might that undermine the authority of the military overall? Might it encourage endemic sexual assault in the military?
The scope of the problem was underscored late Thursday when the Army confirmed it was investigating its top sexual assault prosecutor, Lt. Col. Joseph Morse, on allegations of making unwanted sexual advances two years ago to a lawyer who worked for him.
“We can confirm that this matter is currently under investigation and that the individual in question has been suspended from duties, pending the outcome of the investigation,” an Army spokesperson said.
Also Thursday, Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair, one of the highest-ranking officers ever to face a court-martial, pleaded guilty at the start of his trial to several charges, including having an illicit affair with a female captain, impeding an investigation and pressuring other female officers to send him nude photos.
See what I mean?