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Military justice system 'not equipped' to properly respond to sexual assault victims: report

Biden ordered the investigation into sexual assault in the military in February.

Published: July 2, 2021 1:40pm

Updated: July 2, 2021 3:25pm

A watchdog report released Friday by the Defense Department concluded the military justice system is not properly equipped to handle and respond to special and sexual harassment/assault victims.

The report by an Independent Review Commission on Sexual Assault in the Military, focused on the system by which such victims report allegations to superiors, saying it fails to adequately resolved matters.

"The Military Justice System is Not Equipped to Properly Respond to Special Victim Crimes," the report read. 

President Biden on Feb. 26 ordered a 90-day investigation into sexual assault in the military. The investigation officially began on March 24 and included 12 outside experts.

The investigation comes amid rising concerns over sexual assault in the military. For 2019 alone, there were 7,825 reported incidents of sexual assault involving service members, with 6,236 being made by service members, according to the Military Health System.

The report concluded "only prosecutors have the technical training to make the purely legal decisions that affect victims' access to justice" and that decisions "should be in the sole discretion of lawyers who, unlike commanders, are directly involved in interviewing witnesses, reviewing all available evidence, and preparing the case for trial."

The report gave several recommendations for the military to implement to improve the situation. The first is creating an Office of the Special Victim Prosecutor within the Office of the Secretary of Defense.

It also recommends independent, trained investigators for sexual harassment, among other recommendations that are related to sentencing parameters for special victims.

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