Durbin plans to grill Army officials on military sexual assaults

Durbin’s comments came after the Army announced an investigation into sexual assault by a noncommissioned officer assigned to the sexual assault prevention office at Fort Hood, Texas.

“Reports of a soldier at Fort Hood, Texas, assigned to prevent and report sexual assaults, being accused of serious sexual misconduct; abuse; and maltreatment of soldiers is reprehensible,” said Durbin, who chairs the Senate Appropriations subcommittee on Defense.

Last week, the Pentagon estimated that there were 26,000 military sexual assault cases in 2012 — a 30 percent increase from 2010.

Immediately after that report, Sens. Patty Murray (D-Wash.) and Kelly Ayotte (R-N.H.) introduced the Combating Military Sexual Assault Act, which would create a special victims taskforce in the military to help victims through the reporting process, among other things.

“It's an astonishing reminder that the Pentagon has both a major problem on its hands and a tremendous amount of work to do to assure victims — who already only report a small fraction of sexual assaults — that they are changing the culture around these heinous crimes,” Murray said after the reports of the Fort Hood incident. “Its also time for Congress to move on legislation like the bipartisan bill that Sen. Ayotte and I introduced last week that gives victims the protections they deserve to seek justice and that gives the Pentagon tools to deal with this growing crisis."

Durbin said he strongly supports S. 871 and hopes it gets a vote in the Senate.

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