LOS ANGELES (CBSLA.com) — U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer announced legislation Friday to address what she called an “epidemic” of military sexual assault cases.
KNX 1070′s Charles Feldman reports Boxer was joined by a Marine Corps veteran and sexual assault survivor who shared her story with the public for the first time.
The Senate Armed Services Committee held a hearing on legislation to combat military sexual assault, including a bill sponsored by Boxer, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) and Senator Susan Collins (R-ME).
The legislation would allow prosecutors – not commanding officers – to make the final decision on sexual assault cases in the military.
The Department of Defense estimates that more than 26,000 incidents of sexual assault occurred in the military last year. Only 3,374 of these crimes were reported, resulting in just 238 convictions.
Boxer said the time has come to address the growing problem.
“As the years go by, we learn more and more, and now we’re at the point where we know enough, there’s enough study, there’s enough people coming forward,” Boxer said.
Stacey Thompson of San Clemente was among those joining Boxer to recount her own story of sexual assault, which included allegations that she was drugged and raped by a senior officer during a tour of duty in Okinawa, Japan.
The accused officer was later acquitted of the charges, while Thompson was forced to leave the military over drug abuse charges, according to Boxer.
A Pentagon report released in January found that women account for 95 percent of all sex crime victims despite comprising only 14 percent of the Army ranks.