Peninsula Congresswoman Jackie Speier has been making headlines recently for her criticism of the military's handling of sexual assault against female soldiers.
Last week, Speier, D-Hillsborough, called on the House Armed Services Committee to hold hearings about a scandal that took place at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, TX, in which a group of male boot-camp instructors either engaged in sexual misconduct, assaulted or harassed a number of female recruits.
An Air Force investigation has led to charges against six training instructors whose alleged wrongdoing ranges from rape to improper sexual relations with a trainee. Six additional instructors are under investigation as well. Only one woman actually came forward to report the crime, but 31 victims have been identified, according to Speier.
“We need to know from the top that the phrase 'zero tolerance for sexual assault in the military' is a fact, not a talking point,” Speier said in a speech.
Speier has now authored a bill to make sure rape and sexual assault in the military are no longer tolerated. The bill, H.R. 3435, the The Sexual Assault Training Oversight and Prevention Act—the STOP Act—would take the reporting, oversight, investigation and victim care of sexual assaults out of the hands of the military’s normal chain of command and place jurisdiction in a newly created office comprised of civilian and military experts.
Speier said the military needs to overhaul its judicial system so that sexual-assault cases are investigated and prosecuted outside the normal chain of command to remove the incentive for commanders to cover up incidents that could make them look bad.