SEXUAL ASSAULT IN THE MILITARY
August 14, 2012
Sexual assault in the military: The military has launched an unprecedented attack on disputed sexual intercourse by its personnel. Congress has declared an unofficial war on sexual assault in the military and they don’t care about guilt or innocence. Congress just wants results! It is a nightmare scenario where the victim’s testimony is believed without much corroboration, investigations are often sloppily conducted and the strictest punishments possible are meted out to personnel convicted.
The Army has even gone as far as to implement the Special Victims Prosecutor (SVP) program. This program came about after the Army had a difficult time explaining to Congress why there were so many incidents of alleged sexual assaults not effectively prosecuted. Congress wants more convictions!! And so the snowball rolls. The Army, Air Force, Marines, Navy and Coast Guard demand more convictions! The Army’s solution was to create a regional prosecutorial program designed specifically to attack suspected perpetrators in order to secure more convictions. SVP’s are now stationed all over the world hunting for their next conviction. Typically these prosecutors are senior Majors or Lieutenant Colonels in the Army JAG Corps. Your military defense counsel is typically a junior, or mid-term Captain with at most, with 24 months of courtroom experience and typically less than 4 years total service to the Army. You will not get a Special Victim Defense attorney. The deck is stacked against you!
Sexual assault in the military is understood either as rape or carnal knowledge. If you have been accused of rape or carnal knowledge, you have entered a surreal world where, on flimsy evidence, your career in the military may be finished, you may face death or extended confinement, or be dishonorably discharged.
This is no less than a combat situation, and you need a battle ready ally in your attorney. Experienced, tough, with a thorough understanding of the law, and an unflinching commitment to see justice done to you.
WHAT IS CONSIDERED RAPE?
The UCMJ manual defines rape as an act of sexual intercourse, committed by force and without consent. Any degree of penetration is sufficient to qualify as an act of sexual intercourse amounting to rape. Rape may be committed on a person of any age.
While concluding that there was a lack of consent, the court martial is required to consider all surrounding circumstances.
Typically, if the alleged victim fought back, there was no consent. However, if the alleged victim did not fight back, it would not automatically mean that there was consent. If the victim testifies consistently, or can otherwise prove, that resistance was futile, that the victim’s life was in grave danger, or that the victim was overwhelmed and subdued by threat of grievous bodily harm, resistance need not be established. Rape is punishable at worst by death or by life imprisonment.
WHAT IS CONSIDERED CARNAL KNOWLEDGE?
Carnal knowledge is defined as sexual intercourse, which is not rape, but with a person under 16 years of age, who is not the service member’s spouse. Any degree of penetration is sufficient to qualify as an act of sexual intercourse amounting to carnal knowledge.
As the accused, you could have a defense if you can prove that the alleged victim was at least 12 years old, and that you had reason to believe the victim to be at least 16. Establishing this will depend completely on the facts of your case.
Carnal knowledge is punishable by confinement of up to 20 years, dishonorable discharge and forfeiture of all pay/allowances. If you find yourself in a situation where the alleged victim was less than 12 years old, you may even face life in confinement without parole.
The military also rigorously prosecutes related offences like indecent sexual assault, internet sex crimes, indecent fraternization, sexual harassment, indecent liberties, indecent exposure and solicitation for immoral purposes.