Senators introduce bill to address military sexual assaults

Murray and Ayotte called the sexual assaults “appalling” and demanded that Congress act quickly to help victims.

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“Our service members volunteer to face danger, to put their lives on the line, to protect the country and all its people,” Murray said on the Senate floor Tuesday. “When we think of those dangers we think of IEDs [improvised explosive devices]. … But there are other dangers as well. Dangers that cannot be accepted, and none of our courageous service members should ever have to face. Sexual assault continues to plague the ranks of our military services.”

The Combating Military Sexual Assault (MSA) Act would provide victims of sexual assault with Special Victims’ Counsel (SVC), a legal service that will assist sexual assault victims throughout the complaint process. The bill would also ban sexual relations between instructors and trainees during and within 30 days of completing basic training, among other things.

“The United States continues to have the best military in the world — primarily because of the character, quality, and courage of our men and women in uniform,” Ayotte said. “But when a service member fails to live up to our values and commits sexual assault, we must ensure the victims have the support they need and the perpetrators face justice. Sexual assault presents a serious threat to the morale, discipline and readiness of our armed forces.”

Murray said that Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) would introduce a House companion measure. 

“I am hopeful both chambers can work quickly to do right by our nation’s heroes," Murray said. “Because when our best and our brightest put on a uniform and join the United States Armed Forces, they do so with the understanding they will sacrifice much in the name of defending our country and its people. But that sacrifice should not have to come in the form of unwanted sexual contact from within the ranks.”