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Maryland Navy Veteran Calls for Presidential Action on Sexual Assaults

Photo: Navy veteran Brian Lewis, of Baltimore, wants the President to issue an executive order to help military sexual assault victims. Photo credit: Protect Our Defenders
Photo: Navy veteran Brian Lewis, of Baltimore, wants the President to issue an executive order to help military sexual assault victims. Photo credit: Protect Our Defenders
May 13, 2013

ANNAPOLIS, Md. - President Obama is under new pressure to deal with military sexual assaults after a new report shows the number of incidents increased by more than a third in the last year. Navy veteran Brian Lewis, of Baltimore, who recently testified before a U.S. Senate committee about being raped by one of his superiors, wants the President to issue an executive order taking assault investigations out of the chain of command.

"Keeping this issue in the chain of command undermines unit discipline, and it's totally against the zero tolerance policy that's been in effect for way so long," Lewis declared.

He said such assault cases in the military also result in fewer prosecutions than with similar cases in civilian courts. Several Democratic members of the Maryland U.S. House delegation are co-sponsoring the STOP Act, to establish an independent office to deal with military sexual assault cases.

Lewis said it's extremely discouraging that assaults in the military are increasing, while conviction rates are dropping.

"We've all spoken up at length, and our words are going unheeded by the Pentagon and by the White House," he said.

A Pentagon audit released last week shows the number of assault cases increased 34 percent, from 19,000 incidents in 2011 to 26,0000 last year. President Obama called the incidents an "outrage" and said there will be accountability.

More on the STOP Act is at GovTrack.us.

Alison Burns, Public News Service - MD