In a relatively short span of time, the United States Armed Forces has pushed a revitalized campaign to penalize alleged criminal offenders in the ranks. The Air Force Academy added protections for service members who report sexual assault, the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) was updated to distinguish domestic violence from assault, and United States Secretary of Defense James Mattis urged all branches of the Armed Forces to rely more on the UCMJ and its criminal penalties, rather than using administrative punishments. The campaign continues now with the Army announcing it wants more male service members to feel comfortable with reporting allegations of sexual assault, either as the victim or as a witness. Will the added encouragement actually prevent sexual assault, or will it only create even more false allegations filed out of spite or anger?
ARMY UTILIZES NEW TECH TO RAISE SEXUAL ASSAULT AWARENESS
Although sexual assault prevention programs have traditionally shown a scenario in which a man victimizes a woman, apparently some research shows that most sexual assaults within the Army’s ranks are carried out by a male against another male. There is a prevalent worry among higher-ups that male service members may have too much pride to come forth and admit they were sexually assaulted, perhaps seeing victimization as a sign of weakness. To try to get rid of that hesitation and false pretense of weakness, the Army is coming up with new tools and programs that service members can use to confidently file sexual assault reports.
One such new tool is a training module called the “Digital Survivor of Sexual Assault.” Service members will be able to have a “conversation” with former Specialist Jarett Wright, who brought international attention to in-service sexual assault in 2012 after he was assaulted and hazed in Iraq on deployment. The training module features thousands of prerecorded messages and responses from Wright, designed to provide an honest, firsthand answer to any inquiry the trainee could have about how to report and live with the aftermath of being sexually assaulted by another service member.
SHARP PROGRAM COMING TO LIGHT AGAIN
The Army had previously announced it would promote a safe space for survivors of sexual assault using its Sexual Harassment and Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) program several years ago. During the 2017 change of Administrations, though, SHARP was tabled. The acting-director of SHARP has promised the program will gain speed in 2019 with new and improved initiatives.
The initiatives have a focus on non-commissioned officers (NCO) and other superiors due to the fact that Wright’s account of assault and sexual harassment told of NCOs approving his hazing. However, SHARP will have applications for individual service members, veterans, and newcomers alike. There is also a deliberate undertone of encouraging discussions and honesty among service members, as well as general behavioral improvements when interacting with women.
(You can learn more about SHARP and the program’s initiatives by clicking here and visiting an article from Army Times.)
ENCOURAGEMENT TO SPEAK UP CAN ENCOURAGE FALSE ALLEGATIONS, TOO
No matter the intentions behind the Army’s added efforts to encourage men to speak up about in-service sexual assault, there is also the harsh juxtaposition that the situation will get worse as more and more service members feel justified in filing falsified or exaggerated claims. Within the barracks and under the fear of court martial, there is no classic way for two disputing service members to “get back” at one another for slights and disagreements. As such, a popular way to get revenge is accusing another service member of a military crime, even when there is no evidence to back the allegations. The intentional pushes to come forth with sexual assault accusations will undoubtedly give dishonest individuals the last bit of motivation they needed to finally decide to falsely accuse another service member they dislike for personal reasons.
If you have been falsely accused of sexual assault against another service member, you need steadfast and experienced legal representation to defend your name, your rank, your rights, and your freedom. You can depend on Military Criminal Defense Attorney Joseph L. Jordan. He has an extensive history of successfully representing Armed Forces service members — including soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines, and coast guardsmen — in bases all across the globe and facing charges for all sorts of military crimes, including sexual assault. Whether you have been accused of committing a serious military crime or you need insightful advocacy for a military court martial, you know you can depend on Attorney Joseph Jordan.
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