(Washington, DC) – U.S. Senator Richard Blumenthal (D-Conn.) issued the following statement today regarding news that the Department of Defense is considering several new measures to strengthen its handling of military sexual assault allegations and enhance protections for victims, including measures Blumenthal has proposed and advocated for such as the establishment of a special victim advocate and other measures to protect victims’ rights:
“I am pleased to see that the Department of Defense is following through with its commitment to improve its policies and procedures to address allegations of military sexual assault and to better protect victims. While I welcome their support for reforms I have proposed and advocated for, the draft initiatives released thus far fall short of what is needed to fully address the dreadful problem of military sexual assault. Congress still must act promptly on broad statutory changes and reforms to ensure that our military justice system lives up to the excellence of our brave and heroic service men and women. I appreciate the commitment of our military leaders to eradicating the scourge of sexual assault, and welcome even more aggressive action-- even before Congress moves forward.”
The Department of Defense informed members of Congress this week that it is considering several draft initiatives to strengthen its protections for sexual assault victims and to elevate the oversight of sexual assault allegations. Among those under consideration are proposals to establish a special victim advocacy program to provide legal advice and representation to victims through the justice process, and the development of draft language to grant victims the right to be heard in post-trial actions, including sentencing.