Pentagon Duped Congress About Military Sexual-Assault Cases

Reports of negligent civilian authorities in military sexual-assault cases were overblown or unverifiable.


U.S. Army Korea/Flickr

The Pentagon misled Congress about the handling of sexual assault charges against members of the U.S. military, according to an Associated Press investigation. Defense officials told lawmakers that civilian law-enforcement agents such as cops and district attorneys failed to act adequately in response to sex-crime charges against military members, while military courts picked up the slack and promptly prosecuted offenders. Yet, "in a number of cases, the steps taken by civilian authorities were described incorrectly or omitted," the AP found out.

"Other case descriptions were too imprecise to be verified," the new organization reports. "There also is nothing in the records that supports the primary reason the Pentagon told Congress about the cases in the first place: To show top military brass as hard-nosed crime fighters who insisted on taking the cases to trial."

The Pentagon testimony was designed to stop the passage of a measure that would change the way the military handles sexual assault complaints. The legislation, first introduced by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in 2013, would move the decision whether to prosecute sexual assault cases from military senior officers to military trial lawyers. The measure has failed in the Senate twice so far, but could be back up for a vote this summer. From AP: 

The dispute over Gillibrand's bill centers on the power that senior officers known as convening authorities have to send charges to trial and select jury members. Gillibrand and the bipartisan group of lawmakers argue that the system is archaic and ripe for bias, particularly for sex crimes. Victims may be reluctant to step forward, fearing they won't be believed or that they'll be retaliated against if they file a complaint.

But the bill's detractors have said fewer sex offenders will be caught and convicted if Gillibrand's bill ever becomes law. And that's where the sexual assault cases factored into the debate.

[Navy Adm. James] Winnefeld told the Senate Armed Services Committee in July 2013 that there were 93 sexual assault cases that military commanders insisted on taking after civilian authorities said no. Of the cases that had gone to trial at the time, more than half ended with a conviction, he said.

However, the AP investigation found that "not all the case descriptions had enough information to independently verify if they were correct" and "other descriptions omitted key details about the level of involvement by local authorities." In one case out of San Diego County the district attorney reportedly refused to prosecute a soldier for sexually assaulting a teen because of "insufficient evidence." But according to county court records, Army Sgt. Paul Henson—who was later convicted by a military court in Fort Knox, Kentucky—had long left California by the time local police learned of the incident from a police department in another state. They investigated the allegations and issued a warrant for Henson's arrest, but by this point he had been found guilty in military court already and the victim and her family elected not to proceed with criminal charges in California. 

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  1. OT: EA pwns The Donald


    Presidential hopeful Donald Trump tweets quite frequently, but his messages don’t usually relate to video games. Today, one of his did–and it didn’t go over well. He posted a fan-made video on Twitter that featured voiceover from 2010’s Mass Effect 2’s Illusive Man (performed by Martin Sheen), specifically the part where he says, “We’re at war” and other dramatic things that make sense in the context of the game.

    1. “They’re not sending their best gamers… They’re nerds, virgins, Cheeto addicts, Aspergers cases… some of them, i assume, are good people.”

      1. Speaking of that, what ever happened to Joshua “King of All Gamers” Corning?

        1. He lost his marbles last year. Ask him about gamer gate. Go ahead, ask him.

          1. The terrible battle at Gamergate claimed a lot of young men.

        2. Banned for using cheat codes.

      2. +1 Sword of a Thousand Truths

    2. Nothing Illusive Man said made sense in the context of the game, either.

      1. Much of what Martin Sheen has said in real life falls under that description as well.

        Except for “Never get out of the boat.” Absolutely goddamn right! Unless you were goin’ all the way… Kurtz got off the boat. He split from the whole fuckin’ program.

        That there was some rightious shit!

  2. An advocacy group says the Pentagon made misleading claims about sexual assault cases to block legislation that would change how the military handles allegations of sexual misconduct.

    In a report released Monday, Protect Our Defenders criticized the Pentagon for telling Congress that if the bill is passed fewer sexual assault cases would go to trial.

    The group supports the legislation.

    I’m a little confused here as to what I’m supposed to think – they clearly refer to the group as “an advocacy group” rather than an anti-rape organization or a victim’s rights group or a survivor’s support group or some such, which I think means I’m supposed to think of them as a “special interest group” (Boo!!!) and yet aren’t these the good guys making it easier to hold raping rapists accountable for their rapes by not requiring so much proof or even evidence by the rape reporters who never lie?

    1. Basically they are taking away the ability of officers to discipline troops – particularly while deployed – and giving that power to military lawyers. At the same time, they are shoving women into combat units.

      1. Because what the military really needs is more social justice engineering and experimentation. That should really improve combat capabilities!

        1. Lawmakers love fucking around with the military like it’s a petri dish for their experiments. Back when we were all supposed to be good Christian soldiers, we had fucking dumb laws banning porn and hookers and any number of things that had nothing to do with soldiering and everything to do with unrelated social agendas. Now it’s the SJW’s turn, and they’re passing predictably terrible laws and policies to make us all “tolerant” as they see it.

          When did everyone forget that, when you strip away the dross, we’re killers who kill other killers and that that’s what we should be optimizing for?

          1. Yup, the purpose of the military is to kill people and break shit. Anything else is bullshit.

            1. This is all fucking bullshit.

              Bottom line, the military is generally much more likely to attempt to prosecute a sexual misconduct case than any civilian court ever is. Because of that, conviction rates are way down.

              Commanders will use non-judicial punishment to go after these cases, which the SJW hurt-merchants use as proof of patriarchy and ‘boy’s club’.

              1. You got Bobarian.

          2. I’m still pissed about the bitch captain who went through our barracks in Iraq for god-only-knows what reason 11 years ago and made us take down all the pictures on the ass wall. I put a goddamned lot of careful work into that, carefully cutting out pictures and arranging them to get the maximum amount of gorgeous female skin onto that wall. Weeks of work undone in minutes……

            1. The old frog board! Our Comm Gunny kept in posted on the inside door of our conex box – a place no officer would ever look. His favorite pict involved a mature lady and a Great Dane.

              1. HOG Board – stupid spellcheck.

      2. I suspect this law is about Craig Franklin overturning the sexual assault conviction.

        The UCMJ give the Commander the ability to do that. I think it’s backlash to that decision.

      3. No, they are taking away the officer’s ability to *shield* troops if they so choose.

        If they have a reported rape, they could always have convened an investigation and trial – or they could have stalled and buried the results of the investigation.

        Now its out of their hands and comes around to the same system as in the civilian world – an independent prosecutor decides whether or not there’s enough evidence for a trial. But once at trial its the same procedure as before.

        Article 15 proceedings are unchanged – rape and sexual assault don’t get Art 15 hearings anyway – and the actual *court martial* itself if unchanged – and nothing is stopping an officer from reporting an assault and investigating (which is his *duty*), the only thing that is changed is he no longer has the authority to drop the case at his discretion.

        Now, the question is – are they going to do this with the *rest* of the offenses that are too serious for NJP?

        1. You sound well informed. Maybe you can answer why any portion of the UCMJ exists, that doesn’t deal with offenses specific to military service, IOW the kinds of things civilian legislators wouldn’t consider as needing to be addressed.
          Having separate “justice systems”, like the ones they have on college campuses, seems inimical to what the Constitution tried to set up, what with those silly Bill of Rights things.

  3. So, if I’m understanding the summary of this correctly:

    The DoD “misled” Congress by saying that civilian authorities were handling this, when in fact military authorities were doing so;

    This therefore proves that the military is unable to handle these cases properly, and so should be subject to more civilian oversight.

    Do I get this right?

    1. The problem is that there are no clear winners one way or the other;

      The reform would make the military judicial system more systematic/judicial and less authoritarian but opens it up to more false prosecutions.

      The argument made was that victims are under-reporting crimes because the complaint ultimately goes to the accused’s boss who then decides if the soldier is guilty or not. Local LEOs were supposedly wise to this issue and less likely to prosecute.

      1. The anecdote standing in direct contradiction to the asserted fact; Local LEOs pursued the case in systematic fashion while the military took legally-entitled shortcuts and the ‘victims’ dropped their case with LEOs because the military trial system ‘worked’.

        1. I’d have to guess part of the problem is the military code that makes fraternization a no-no and therefore all such sex however consensual rape plus the organizational self-investigation which automatically looks toward CYA and procedure-matters-more-than-substance BS so you wind up with a lot of complications around what should be a pretty straight-forward procedure. But I just can’t imagine how stupid you’d have to be to rape somebody who has combat training and access to guns and may very well at some point be positioned behind you. “Friendly fire” and “fragging” and “tragic live-fire training exercise accident” are sometimes hard to tell apart.

          1. Come to think of it – why are there so many military tribunals instead of settling these things by trial by combat? Isn’t the point of military training to teach people to defend themselves and kill the enemy and isn’t the fact that you got raped and the guy’s still alive evidence that the training didn’t take?

          2. But I just can’t imagine how stupid you’d have to be to rape somebody who has combat training and access to guns and may very well at some point be positioned behind you.

            The issue isn’t with ‘internal-only’ allegations.

            Civilians are all over military bases and soldiers can be and are on active duty while in American civilian populations. The issue is about military-civilian crimes which (as Steve G says/suggests), 99.99% of the time, is as straightforward as everybody wants it to be.

            The activists, IMO, aren’t exactly wrong to want a measure of reform outside of commands’ hands and/or an additional recourse (from a libertarian standpoint), but they’re falsely leveraging the 0.01% of cases to do it.

    2. It’s confusing to me too and I was in. I would expect a totally different process for investigation and discipline for an alleged crime on a stateside base versus a deployment or ship at sea.

    3. No.
      1. When an assault is reported, the military will often defer to the off-base, civilian jurisdiction to pursue. If they don’t–due to lack of evidence for example–the military system will pick the ball and run with it. The gist of this is, to appear “tough on sexual assault” and preserve the ability for the chain of command to administer the system (vs solely by military lawyers) the military took up cases that didn’t pass muster downtown and convicted the people (potentially based on a lower amount of proof & due process).
      2. The reality is even within the chain of command structure, those same lawyers are involved from the word go since these are felony level offenses. The command chain doesn’t have as much leeway as is often depicted since investigators and lawyers are all up in the business every step of the way. There isn’t going to be ‘civilian oversight’, just whether they will be handled in the chain of command for sex assaults or strictly by the mil lawyers.
      3. The irony is, if it weren’t for all the narratives and outside interest, the current system would be about as just as you could ask for, for victims and the accused.
      Disclaimer: I’m a former 2x commander

      1. To clarify, the military defers to civilian courts/cops when the offense occurs off-base, which is most of the time. Same thing happens for dui’s. It is a twisted sort of double jeopardy for the poor bastard who is cleared downtown, but then charged by his chain of command. Conversely, when they are convicted downtown, the military does not pile on with court martial, but often takes ‘administrative’ action like discharges, demotions, and lessor things like driving privileges, etc

        1. It is a twisted sort of double jeopardy for the poor bastard who is cleared downtown, but then charged by his chain of command.

          Right and the bill is a bunch of SJWs trying to put the case for double-jeopardy in the hands of any JAG who can present a case rather than in the hands of the command structure.

          They aren’t wrong that 12 angry men might be more just than a Senior Officer, they are wrong to think that it will fix their pet problem and won’t cause more problems and/or unintended consequences.

          1. The jag prepares the case in the current system, it’s just the commanders signature on the bottom! The commander can chose to go in a different direction, but it will be at his own peril. …or his boss can take the action from him.
            This is what’s missed in all this. Even if the JAGs take over, they will just be working for a commander higher up the chain. It’s a shell game.

            1. And even if they bring the case, they can’t force a jury or a judge to convict someone without proof. The military has been bringing every rape allegation to trial it could find as a result of the pressure over this issue. And the main result has been a whole bunch of acquittals.

              1. Yeah, file this under ‘there are no good guys here’. In our zeal to prove Gillibrand wrong, we shit on due process.
                But hey, let’s all celebrate Sexual Assault Awareness month by watching The Hunting Ground at the base theater. True story, at this base

                1. But hey, let’s all celebrate Sexual Assault Awareness month by watching The Hunting Ground at the base theater.

                  Is that the one where Leonardo DiCaprio and Kevin Costner decide to go live with the Native Americans or the one where Tommy Lee Jones has to take Benicio Del Toro back to the Chinese consulate for killing his wife?


        2. It seems like the flip-side of the argument is people saying the civilians aren’t prosecuting because they’re deferring to the chain of command and expecting the military to “deal with their own”.

          However, putting this in the hands of lawyers seems ripe to end up at the same place the civilian legal system vis-a-vis civilians defendants has ended up: with a group of people who have a vested and personal interest in achieving convictions at all costs.

          1. And there are hundreds of former military people in state prisons all over this country for crimes that were committed while they were in the service. The truth is these cases are not being taken to court because there is not sufficient proof of guilt to win at trial. And that fact chaps these lunatics’ ass to no end. The military brings rape cases to trial that would never see the light of day in the civilian world. This is the result of the tremendous pressure political being put on them to do so. Of course these cases result in a huge acquittal rate. And that of course becomes another reason for people like Elizabeth to claim the military doesn’t take these cases seriously. See, the military has this high acquittal rate. They don’t care. Just ignore the fact that we force them to bring a bunch of dog cases to trial.

            The bottom line is that the activists will not be satisfied until every woman has the power to put any man in prison by the simple act of making the accusation of rape. This whole thing is nothing short of a war on our criminal justice system and right to due process of law.

            1. Unfortunately, what these people don’t seem to understand is that there will always be some detestable people who don’t get their just deserts. The hairy underbelly of Blackstone’s Formulation is that some guilty men will go free.

              1. Actually, I think they don’t even accept Blackstone’s Formulation. At least, not universally. Many of them seem to feel that it is better 10 men get punished, regardless of guilt, than that 1 alleged rapist goes free.

                I would disagree with you in one aspect, though: it is not “a war on our criminal justice system”. The ultimate goal is to empower that system. But first they have to purge the old guard and the wrongthink.

                1. Yeah. It is a war on everything that is good about our justice system.

    4. You are misunderstanding the summary.

      The military was claiming that *it* was taking care of these cases that the civilians dismissed. But, the evidence the military provided was unclear and incomplete and does not back up their contention that they are more rigorous in investigating and prosecuting sexual assaults.

  4. Am I the only one having an increasingly hard time even giving a shit anymore?

    1. Probably not.

      Obama-Induced Constipation is endemic.

    2. I think every male Marine in the Corps is right with you.

  5. (Former Marine 2004-2008)

    I’m not surprised if senior officers protected their “chosen ones” (favored NCOs and all Staff NCOs and Officers). I saw that so much in the Marine Corps it was just disgusting. The “chosen ones” got away with anything and everyone else got the book thrown at them whether they were guilty or not.

    I don’t trust military officers in the person’s Chain of Command to be unbiased. The military trial lawyers would probably be biased as well, though they wouldn’t likely have skin in the game and so be much less so.

  6. To be honest, it’s less than clear that there is a problem — and if there is, I don’t trust the people who crafted this bill to keep politics out of a rape law.

    That alone says something about the times we live in.

    1. Hey, the bill was introduced by Kirsten Gillibrand, the senator who brought Mattress Girl as her personal guest to the State of the Union. Who could possibly be more objective and less biased?

      1. Did Mattress Girl bring her mattress with her to the SOTU?

    2. To be honest, it’s less than clear that there is a problem — and if there is, I don’t trust the people who crafted this bill to keep politics out of a rape law.


      The usual amount of fixing things not broken and *both* sides happen to have a case so nuanced and/or against liberty that they can’t whip us/anyone into an *OMG* they’re ‘falsely convicting men’/’freely raping women’ frenzy.

  7. “The legislation, first introduced by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) in 2013, would move the decision whether to prosecute sexual assault cases from military senior officers to military trial lawyers.”

    Are we talking about civilians not having sexual assault cases prosecuted without the support of senior officers?

    1. We’re talking about whether civilians can utilize the military courts to advance legal proceedings against soldiers or if they have to rely on their local PD.

      1. Well, hell, I misunderstood this then. I assumed we were talking about uniform-on-uniform rape.

      2. No and no. See my comment above

      3. Yeah, I’m not sure civilian rape victims should need to depend on senior officers for support before that soldier can be prosecuted. I suppose it gets murky if the civilian were assaulted on a military base where the local PD doesn’t have any jurisdiction.

        1. They don’t. The state is free to charge the soldier in state court. And in cases involving a civilian victim usually do.

          And some military bases are duel jurisdiction where the state and feds have jurisdiction over what goes on there. And there is nothing to stop the US Attorney from bringing the case in US District court if it happened in an area of exclusive federal jurisdiction.

          The central lie behind this entire thing and what ENB seems to fail to understand, is that military commanders get the final say on if a soldier is prosecuted. No, they get the final say on if they are court martialed. Senior officers have no control over what the states do or what the US attorney’s do.

          If ENB and her feminist sisters think these cases are being ignored, they should go after the US Attorneys and state DAs who are refusing to prosecute them. Potentially three different authorities get a bite at this apple. If none of them want it, it almost certainly means there is not enough proof of guilt to win at trial.

          1. Many a roll call / morning formation:

            Anderson: Here

            Blake: Here

            Carson: somebody in back row… In the custody of the civilian authorities

            First Sergeant: inaudible stream of curses

            1. And I am sure some black kid from Chicago or Los Angeles who is accused of raping a local white girl will totally get a fair trial from a civilian jury in Alexandrian Louisiana or Killleen Texas.

              1. Never got that bad. Just drunk idiots acting stupid and / or fighting with other drunk idiots.

      4. This is about getting the Commander out of the decision making process. Rightly or wrongly.

        And this is the impetus for the action.

  8. I know what will fix it – women in combat arms! That won’t create problems at all.

    For years I regretted leaving the Corps, and even tried to get back in once – went back to MEPS and everything, but they cut off prior service enlistments before I could get orders and my enthusiasm for continuing to keep my run time low and pullup numbers high dimmed in the year and a half before they opened back up. Now, though? Getting out was the best possible decision I could have made. Virtually all of my friends who stayed in with the intention of making a career of it have left, as the Marine Corps has become just another lefty social experiment.

    1. Yeah. Lets put a bunch of 18-22 year old people in a mixed sex high stress environment. And while we are at it lets have a bunch of rules that make it illegal for most of them to fuck and gives any woman caught breaking those rules a reason to cry rape.

      That will work out fucking great won’t it?

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