An op-ed penned by Lt. Gov. John Walsh appeared in The Hill today. In the op-ed – which can be read HERE – Walsh endorses Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s proposed reform, which would remove the prosecution of sexual assault cases from the “purview of military commanders.”
John Walsh writes, “In the Montana National Guard, if the unimaginable happens, prosecution of sexual assault occurs outside the purview of a military commander. Criminal acts committed in the Guard are reported to the appropriate civilian authorities, which then investigate and prosecute them. The Guard cooperates throughout the entire process, but has no right to interfere. No one in the Guard has the power to overrule the results of a fair trial in an American court.
That’s why I support legislation sponsored by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) to remove prosecutions from the purview of military commanders — much like the Montana National Guard does. This legislation has earned widespread support on both sides of the aisle.”
The House and Senate have excluded Gillibrand’s reforms from a Military sexual assault agreement to the disappointment of the Service Women’s Action Network.
“We’re disappointed Congress will not include Senator Gillibrand’s Military Justice Improvement Act as an amendment to the 2014 National Defense Authorization Act,” Anu Bhagwati, executive director of Service Women’s Action Network said in a statement. “Congress has chosen to sidestep the most important military justice reform to come across its desk in history, once again leaving sexual assault victims devastated and betrayed by inaction. However, the fight is not over. The majority of the American people and justice are on our side. Senator Gillibrand has introduced her reform as a stand-alone bill. We must continue to fight for justice for our troops by demanding Congress bring this important legislation to the floor for a vote.”