Sex crimes, a heavy topic for many, but a topic that is nevertheless pervasive in a military justice caseload. From periods of under prosecution to overzealous prosecution, the pendulum never stops swinging, rarely balanced. With the confirmation of SecDef Austin, and President Biden's ordering of a 90-day commission to address sexual assault and harassment, it appears the pendulum is swinging towards Pentagon leadership pushing for over-prosecution.
After his confirmation in January, one of SecDef's first actions was ordering the review of the military's sexual assault and harassment prevention programs. Two weeks ago at a Pentagon press briefing, SecDef reiterated his commitment to preventing sexual assault, even going so far as to admit that they " haven't gotten it right." And just last week at a press conference, Pentagon Press Secretary Kirby stated that the 90-day commission will begin soon and that SecDef will not wait until the end of the 90 days to implement changes.
Explicitly, policy changes are coming on how the military addresses sexual assault and harassment. Implicitly, a rise in the prosecution of sexual assault and harassment cases. Only time will tell but after the removal of Fort Hood leadership following the death of PFC Vanessa Guillen, and the public outcry for accountability, I wouldn't be surprised.
Elizabeth M. Berecin
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