Bill would strip 'good soldier defense' in military sexual assaults

 

The 2015 Defense authorization bill released Monday would halt consideration of a service member's "military character" in deciding whether to prosecute alleged sexual assaults.

The proposed bill, released by House Armed Services Committee Chairman Buck McKeon (R-Calif.), would get rid of the "good soldier defense" — a consideration of general military character toward the probability of innocence in sexual assault prosecutions.

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The proposal also calls for a review of the terms of discharge for those who are victims of sexual offenses, to ensure they are not being retaliated against for reporting crimes, according to a bill summary.  

Victims would also be consulted as to their preference for prosecuting offenders by court-martial or through civilian channels.

Last week, the Pentagon released a report that showed that sexual assault reports in 2013 were up 50 percent from the year before.

Officials said it showed that victims were becoming more confident in the military justice system and were stepping forward, but some lawmakers argued that the increase showed that further reforms were needed.