Senate OKs Bill to Toughen Military Sexual Assault Prosecutions

The Senate unanimously passed a bill Monday that would toughen procedures for investigating and trying cases of sexual assault in the military.

The 97-0 vote came after last week’s Senate rejection of a rival bill offered by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D- N.Y., that would have removed the prosecution of sex assaults and other serious crimes from the military chain of command.

The bill the Senate passed Monday was sponsored by Sen. Claire McCaskill, D- Mo., Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R- N.H., and Sen Deb Fischer, R- Neb.

It would eliminate what is known as the “good soldier” defense, which allows service members to argue that their good military performance is evidence of their innocence when charged with a crime.

Also under the bill, when a commander decided to not prosecute a sexual assault case and that decision conflicted with the recommendation of the senior prosecutor who would try the case, a review by the next highest authority in the chain of command would be mandatory.