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AF publishes list of sex assault convictions

Sep. 13, 2013 - 06:00AM   |  
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A newly published Air Force document includes all sexual assault convictions from 2010 through August of this year. It marks the first time the service has attempted to release such a list as it faces criticism for its handling of sex assault cases.

The service had a 57 percent conviction rate in fiscal 2012, according to the 62-page list, which is posted on the Air Force Judge Advocate General website under a link called “sexual assault information.” Each conviction includes the name and rank of the airman, the base where the offense occurred, the trial results and the sentence.

The report doesn’t list airmen who were acquitted of sexual assault at court-martial. It does not state whether a sentence was reduced by a commander through clemency or appeal. The Air Force has said there have been five such cases in the last five years.

The list also doesn’t include airmen whose cases were handled administratively, meaning the airman did not go to court-martial.

“The appropriate disposition of sexual assault allegations and investigations may not always include referral to trial by court-martial,” according to the document.

All the service branches have come under fire for their handling of sex assault cases. Several high-profile cases have rocked the military, including the dozens of investigations of military training instructors at Joint Base San Antonio-Lackland and the overturning of a sex assault conviction by an Air Force commander in February. A Defense Department report also showed a sharp rise in the number of service members who said they had experienced unwanted sexual contact.

In the aftermath, lawmakers have called for changes to the Uniform Code of Military Justice. Some have demanded the military remove the chain of command entirely from the decision-making process in sex assault cases. Others have supported less drastic changes, including stripping commanders of the authority to overturn jury verdicts in major criminal cases.

Meanwhile, the services have ramped up sexual assault prevention and response efforts. In January, the Air Force launched a special victims counsel program, which provides attorneys to victims of sex crimes. The Air Force also has an ongoing prevention and response campaign that includes a blog, live web chats with leaders and videos featuring sex assault survivor stories.

The service branches have also made efforts to provide greater transparency within the military criminal justice system.

In July, the Navy released the results of each court-martial and special court-martial from January to June — 135 in all. Although it included all crimes, the Navy said it was an effort to curb sexual assault, and the service plans to publish the information regularly.

“This department is committed to using all available resources to prevent this crime, aggressively investigate allegations and prosecute as appropriate,” Navy Secretary Ray Mabus said in a statement announcing the changes. “We will not hide from this challenge — we will be active, open and transparent.”

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