Peterson Urges Reform in Military Sexual Assault Prosecution

Nov. 11, 2021, midnight ·

Beginning of letter from attorneys general letter to congressional leaders
Beginning of letter from attorneys general to congressional leaders

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Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson is helping lead a bipartisan coalition of his colleagues urging Congress to reform military justice for sexual assault survivors.

Peterson, a Republican, and Illinois Attorney General Kwame Raoul, a Democrat, are the lead signers of a letter to Congress urging it to approve changes in the military justice system.

The letter says currently, sexual assault allegations are frequently investigated by agencies not solely devoted to criminal investigation. Decisions on prosecution are then made by military commanders who are not attorneys and who are subject to pressure on the careers and from higher-ups not related to facts of the case, the letter says.

It says in 2018, the Defense Department reported just over 6 percent of women and just under 1 percent of men had experienced a sexual assault in the previous 12 months. And it says more than three-quarters never report they’ve been assaulted, often because they suffer retaliation when they do report.

The letter says the legislation the attorneys general are endorsing would transfer decisions on prosecution to independent, trained, professional military prosecutors, while leaving uniquely military crimes within the chain of command. It was signed by the attorneys general of 27 states, the District of Columbia and Guam, including 21 Democrats, 7 Republicans, and one independent.