U.S. Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel said he’s willing to consider taking away the power of military commanders to decide on prosecuting sexual assaults within their ranks, a move some lawmakers have proposed.
U.S. military commanders would lose authority over sexual-assault cases and other major crimes under legislation introduced today by lawmakers from both parties responding to expanding allegations of wrongdoing.
A U.S. Army sergeant who served as a sexual-assault prevention coordinator at Fort Hood, Texas, is under investigation on allegations including “abusive sexual contact” and “pandering,” according to the Pentagon.
Democratic lawmakers and victims’ advocates said they will push to strip U.S. military commanders of the power to prosecute sexual assaults after a Pentagon survey found attacks jumped 35 percent over the past two years.
President Barack Obama vowed to “exponentially step up our game” to combat military sexual assaults after the Air Force’s top officer for sexual-assault prevention was arrested on charges of sexual battery.