tv Military Leaders Testify on Sexual Assault Prosecutions CSPAN April 3, 2019 11:35pm-1:56am EDT
stories gathered by interviews with noted historians. explore the life events that shaped our leader challenges they face and the legacies they left behind. published by public affairs, c-span's the presidents will be on shelves april 23, you can preorder your copy as a hardcover or e-book firstname.lastname@example.org/the presidents. or wherever books are sold. next, current and former military officials testify on the role of commanders in sexual assault prosecutions within the armed services. the house armed services military personnel subcommittee heard from three sexual assault survivors who described their treatment by the chains of command and fellow servicemembers, the second panel featured representatives of the military branches judge advocate general offices. the hearing is two hours and 20 minutes.
>> the hearing will come to order. welcome to the military subcommittee of military personnel subcommittee of the armed services committee. this is a very important issue that we are going to discuss today. i've been fighting this epidemic of sexual assault in the military since 2011. we've made meaningful progress addressing the scourge, survivors have more resources and there's more accountability for some commanders who would prefer to sweep assault under the rug. we've also made important changes to the legal process, so that it's more closely representing the justice system. commanders can no longer unilaterally fill out convictions, the good soldier defense is gone though a witness suggests not all commanders are following the law and survivors don't have to suffer through article 32 processes that require them to endure up to 48 to 72 hours of
cruel cross examination, absent normal legal checks. these are forms that endured of the made the system better for survivors and more credible overall. assault rates remain far too high. near 15,000 in fiscal year 2015 and rates were low only 32% that year. the experience of some survivors is better but more servicemembers trust survivors when they report harassment but a culture of endemic retaliation and doubt persists. 45% of all students that reported assault that the military service academies suffered from ostracism. too many servicemembers live and work in toxic cultures characterized by pervasive unrelenting harassment and assault. victims of sexual assault spend
the rest of their lives coping with the mental and physical aftereffects of their attack. perpetrators often get off scott free and collect accolades. many survivors resigned from service, humiliated and eject. i believe the department and services care about fixing the problem. they tied their own hands, refusing to admit current efforts are working. incremental solutions are not good enough, something here is fundamentally broken and we need to act and act urgently. performing the system requires balancing the rights of the accused and commanders abilities to go to affective units with minimal sexual assault. i'm convinced finding this balance must involve keeping this in the military and transferring the decision to try special victims cases from commanders to an independent prosecution authority. our allies in the united kingdom, canada,
australia and israel also asked commanders from sexual assault prosecution and it works. giving a special prosecutor this responsibility makes it easier for survivors to receive just outcomes and reduce prosecution and allow commanders to better focus on addressing and improving their units cultures. >> survivors with no that this would not be influenced and they would decide whether to prosecute the cases. there are f commanders abusing their power to issue favored subordinates wrist slaps. ignore victims preferences, or who are comfortable themselves. they ignore victims preferences for trial jurisdiction or who are coupled themselves. senator mcsally's commander raped her, no one in her chain of command should've decided whether her case was prosecuted . limiting the commanders legal will would encourage more survivors to report that to
trust the system and to believe that no matter the outcome of the case, they had been given a fair shake. special prosecutor would also be better for the accused, over the last few years, i heard the commanders never countermand the lawyers when the recommendation is to try a case and they bring each case and commanders are trying cases that district attorneys would never touch. those are not signs of a healthy system they are signs of a system that is overcorrected where the pendulum has swung wildly to an opposite extreme. less than 5% of sexual assault cases are referred to court- martial and of those cases, only 20% result in successful convictions. humidity commanders are better at trying cases to dodge political pressure than they are doing the hard work of charges when it's appropriate.
the approach waste time and money and makes the system less credible. >> every time i survivors name of perpetrator, i want the military to believe the survivor by the resources and investigate the offense. if there's sufficient evidence for charges then charges should be preferred. i trust military lawyers to make the determination far more than i trust commanders. commanders would also be freer to fight sexual assault if they didn't also serve as convening authority. and a string of recent decisions the court of appeals for the armed forces has raised the specter of unlawful command in sexual assault cases because they believe that proceedings were compromised or choosing jury members in response to political pressure. having a commander jeopardizes convictions and the commanders awareness of this legal risk it legalizes the risk to stamp out
sexual assault in the unit. opposing assault today can get a conviction thrown out tomorrow. if a special prosecutor determines whether to try cases, it would remove those risks. commanders portray something they are not experts in making legal decisions for setting tone and expectations. they could more freely build and enforce unit cultures while still being held accountable for fixing the problem. senior commanders could mentor their subordinates on the front line to help them fight the problem without worrying about legal ramifications. this isn't a slippery slope. it's a way to strengthen the foundation of military criminal justice. today we are joined by two panels including three brave women who will tell us about their experience reporting sexual assault and the way the chain of command responded when they did. i encourage my colleagues to learn about their experiences and how they
commanders role in the justice system complicated the legal response. these survivors will be joined by outside military legal experts. i'm interested to hear what they view as the military justice system strength and weaknesses, responding to sexual assault and changes they would propose. after a break we will be joined by the top judge advocates from each service and i'm eager to hear how they think commanders can participate more effectively in the military justice process, especially given recent rulings about unlawful command influence. before i introduce our first panel let me offer ranking member kelly to make opening remark. >> thank you, i've been blessed beyond belief, i've commanded at the brigade and higher levels. i've also been a district attorney elected duly by the people so i've prosecuted and sent sexual predators for consecutive life sentences without parole. one sexual assault is too many one that goes on a counterforce too many.
we don't need to throw out the baby with the bathwater. p commanders, they can make an impact at the level, we need to ensure that we give that there are good and bad commanders, more good than bad but that when there is a bad commander there are actions that can be taken for the things that happen. thank each of our witnesses for being here, i want you to know that you are brave, brave, women. thank you so much for your service to this great nation and for coming here today to testify before the panel. i especially want to thank all the survivors of sexual assault for their bravery. the uc mj evolve significantly over a 75 year history but the past 10 years have seen significant changes from dramatic the improving victim rights to new sexual assault offenses they have experienced substantial improvement, notably the 2007 ndaa contained the most
comprehensive overhaul in 50 years. the result of a multiyear study by the military justice working group. in fact, these reforms were just implemented on january 1 this year . >> clearly much work remains to ensure that every sexual assault perpetrator is held accountable. however, i would caution against additional major changes to the commander centric justice system, we've not even seen results of reform instituted just 90 days ago. there can be no doubt that the problem of sexual assault remains one of the most challenging and persistent issues in society. as a former district attorney his prosecuted sexual offenses, i can attest that these horrific crimes have a long- lasting impact on both the victims and the community. i can also tell you from personal experience that the answer to solving the problem in the military does not lie in attempting to replicate the civilian prosecution system
were less than .5% of sexual assault's will ever result in a conviction. i have been inside a grand jury and have seen grand juries not indicted on one person's word against another. i seen lawyers and district attorneys who would not take a case to trial for fear they might lose because they are worried about being reelected and losing. congress has establish multiple independent commissions to study sexual assault in the military and specific to the role of the commander in prosecution. i want to thank the chairwoman and others on the committee for their role in establishing them. not one of these independent panels has recommended removing the commander, in fact one of the panels, the response systems panel included former congresswoman elizabeth holtzman and ms. fernandez, civilian prosecutor and executive director for victims of crimes that both came to the panel
believing that removing the commanders sounded right. but after hearing from hundreds of expert witnesses in reviewing the data for both change their mind, if removing the commander and putting the power in the hands of prostic hughes boreal bureaucracy , junket. we can have the present system that we haven't seen any evidence of that. three weeks ago one of the former colleagues spoke on the subject. martha mc sally bravely came forward to tell about her experience of sexual assault in the military. and a subsequent letter to secretary of defense she stated she strongly believed we cannot take responsibility away from the commanders due to the unique roles commanders play in culture, readiness discipline and mission. she went on to call for the defense department to establish a task force to look for meaningful and immediate changes to improve sexual
assault prevention and response. madam chair, i fully support this task force and ask that the letter to the acting secretary of defense be made part of today's record . >> so ordered . >> as a former commander in district attorney i know this is a scourge on both the military and society as a whole. but from both the military and legal perspective i'm convinced that removing the commander from the process will not help the root issue and will like the undermine the process. i'm committed to working to find meaningful effective solutions to the problem and i look forward to hearing from today's witnesses. thank you, i yield back . >> thank you mr. kelley park each witness will have the opportunity to present the testimony and question witnesses for five minutes. we asked the witness to summarize testimony, written comments and statements will be made part of the hearing record . we will begin by welcoming our first panel, colonel don
christiansen, retired president of protect our defenders, the u.s. army retired chief executive officer of service women action network, lieutenant commander aaron elliott, u.s. navy. miss nellie hansen angela, u.s. army retired with that, miss christiansen, the floor is yours . >> thank you for the opportunity to appear before you to examine this. i'm glad you're holding this hearing on this topic as the role of commanders is greatly misunderstood. the common misconception is that all commanders have prosecution authority which is not true. prosecution authority rests in a tiny subset of commanders called convening authorities.
convening authorities are the only commanders who have the traditional prosecutorial authority to send the case to a martial, to add or dismiss charges or to approve a pretrial agreement or plea- bargain. based on recent changes to law, convening authority are the only ones who can dispose of a sexual assault or raped case. to put this in perspective the dod has around 14,500 commanders , but only 393 commanders have general court-martial convening authority and on the 139 actually use the authority to convene a court according to the most recent dod data. in other words, less than 1% of all commanders exercise prosecution authority for the most serious level of court. approximately 600 special court- martial convening authority report and about 4% of commanders. i bring these numbers to attention because it's important to understand that despite what you may hear
today, prosecution authority is not integral to being a commander. 95% of the commanders do their job every day without the ability to send anyone to a court-martial. these commanders have a wide range. they can do this through judicial punishment, administrative counseling, discharges, confinement, and issuing protective orders. they may be geographically separated by thousands of miles and the reality is court- martial's are almost never used is purely discipline issues and court-martial's have transitioned to an almost
exclusive process for prosecuting common crimes. by that i mean conduct would be both a crime in the military and a crime in civilian society. the use of court-martial's has and is plummeting the most recent data from the department of defense in fiscal year 15 the entire military convened less than 2000 general and special courts. this is a dramatic drop from fiscal year 2000, when the military prosecuted almost 5000 special and general courts. despite the military only being four-point 65% smaller, they felt 31 percent and special courts plummeted 73%. if we look back to fiscal year 90 the drops are even more dramatic. that you the military prosecuted almost 10,000 special and general courts. in the late 50s, the army alone did almost 50,000 courts per year despite being the same and
it's clear the military has transitioned away from the court-martial to a criminal justice process but the demand for nonlawyer convening authorities are simply not qualified to administer. they set out a clear standard that the prosecution's decision should be made by lawyers admitted to the bar and subject to ethics standards. the reason for the standard is obvious, only lawyers are qualified to ask as prosecutors . the military's insistence that convening authorities are more mollified is indispensable. there is nothing inherent to command the qualifies someone to make prosecution decisions. someone does not become qualified to make decisions from powerpoint briefing and
talking to staff judge advocate's. anymore than they are qualified to perform surgery because they've taken a red cross course. is time to accept that the practice of laws and professions they should not be engaged in in my remaining time i will point out to ranking member kelly, only one of the three panels has looked at the role of commander, the judicial proceedings panel refused to look at the issue and the current deck ipad does not address the issue. with that i look forward to answering any questions you might have . >> thank you for allowing me to make remarks on this important topic. i'm a ceo of the women's network i retired after 30 years of military service, have a masters degree in public policy and a phd in conflict analysis and resolution and taught at the army's commanding
general staff college, the army war college and georgetown university. my research and work focuses on women and gender in the military. i commanded two army units, alas at the brigade level and during my military career. during my first army assignment one of my soldiers was murdered and i closely watched as the criminal investigation and subsequent conviction unfolded, but at the unit level we had no involvement in the investigation. later one of my soldiers was church was selling drugs in the barracks and he was immediately locked up in pretrial confinement and the only thing that we did was make health and welfare visits to ensure that he was being properly treated. years later in 1997 when i was a major stationed in hawaii i was assigned as the investigating officer in three raped cases. i am not nmp, cid or jack and i have no training in how to investigate a sex crime so, i found the three soldiers who'd been raped to be credible victims, the perpetrator and nco was eventually reassigned to another unit. i juxtapose these experiences to illustrate the very different ways the military has approached how felony crimes have been handled over the years, sex crimes against women have never been
treated with the same level of outrage or professionalism as other serious crimes. fortunately into the credit of members of congress the army no longer allows an untrained officer to investigate cases of raped but other problems persist. first, while military officers and those selected to command receive a great deal of training, they have little legal training. having taught at the two army's premier service colleges sky can tell you that the legal training is superficial at best and only senior-level commanders have jagged officers assigned to their staffs to advise them and these jagged officers are general and not prosecutors with no expertise in sex crimes. furthermore, the jagged officers assigned to senior leaders are always junior and subordinate to the commanders that they advise. this means that they are evaluated by their bosses and therefore subject to command influence, they are not independent and are not experts in sex crimes. second, we hear from and work
with survivors on a daily basis, their stories are always similar. if they decide to come forward and report they are generally not believed, they are seen as creating a problem where none existed before and they almost always suffer retaliation. they consistently tell us that there commanders filled them in profound ways. as a former commander i can tell you i would not want to have to decide if or when to move forward with the investigation of a sex crime because i know that my knowledge and expertise is limited in this area. >> furthermore there are simply too many conflicts of interest to be the best decision-makers in sex crime cases not to mention the fact that there are commanders themselves who have been perpetrators . >> finally the next panel will sit here and say that commanders must stay in the
decision-making process to maintain good order and it's an nebulous process they won't first defined but all of the european allies, as has been pointed out have removed their commanders from the decision- making process but a good order and discipline has not melted away in their military organizations. the panel will likely tell you that the u.s. military is exceptional and cannot be compared to our allies. if we are so exceptional then why must our commanders have a degree of 30 over their subordinates that our allies don't need in order to maintain the same level of good order and discipline? we support removing commanders from the decision-making process because doing so sends a signal that there are certain crimes for which they are not mollified to make decisions on. culture is ultimately at the root of our sexual assault problem in the military. sexual assault is simply not seen as a serious crime. until it's viewed as a serious crime and treated as a felony it will
continue to pervade the culture. removing commanders from the decision-making process sends the signal that there are some crimes that are so severe that commanders have no place in deciding if, when or how they are prosecuted. they will fundamentally shift how we view sexual assault and ultimately impact our culture in a way that says this behavior is absolutely unacceptable. thank you. i look forward to your questions . >> thank you . >> lieutenant commander elliott . >> good afternoon congresswoman and congressman. thank you for inviting me here today. i appreciate the opportunity to speak about my experiences and share my thoughts. i've been in the navy for a little more than 14 years now and have served on six different ships and have one around the country in the world. in august 2014 someone i consider to close friend raped me pick it was extremely traumatic and one that nearly destroyed me. initially i made a restrictive report that i
don't want my commanding officer to know nor did i want law enforcement involved. i spent months in shock and the only way i made it through was with the support of my good friends. as i progress in my healing are working through the ptsd, anxiety and depression i was diagnosed with i moved to a new command with a new commanding officer and i began to consider changing my report from restricted to unrestricted . i was very lucky at my new command, i had a wonderful commanding officer and a great work environment and i decided to change my report to unrestricted i had the amazing support for my commanding officer, someone i consider the best leader i've ever known, he went above and beyond what was required of him in the situation, unfortunately i would learn through my experience and through listening to other victims experience is that the support is not the norm. but i did not expect everyone to be the great leader he was or is, i expect to be treated with the same
dignity and respect he showed me but i was not. that the fact i was a sexual assault survivor was a burden and inconvenience to my bosses and the upcoming court-martial for the person who ripped me was a hindrance to them. raped me was a hindrance to them. when i reported to my new command, it was unknown when the court-martial would happen. one of the first things they said was, i hope it is not during an important part of the ship's life, and all i could think was, the next time i get raped, i will planet better. these things really do mice to me and made me seriously --stion considering i was called into the office where he told me he had received and read the report. after he handed it to me, i
seriously considered dropping the case as i did not want my reading about-- vagina. my boss told me he had removed someone from command because they had cancer and had treatment. he told me he would rather go through i was going through and having cancer. i can tell you after being treated for breast cancer, i would rather go through that. upon returning, nothing got better. i was humiliated, and outcast and ridiculed. events forultiple commanding officers i was not invited to. my ship was given unfair scrutiny, greater than any other ship. what nearly broke me, was almost as bad as the assault, my personal information was divulged to my peers, including counseling information i had
only discussed with my bosses, who then used it to humiliate and demoralize me. if i could have gone out of the navy at that point, i would have, but i was in a contract. as commanding offers, we are given a three day legal course. i was by no means a legal expert, but was equipped to deal with minor infractions. it is my belief not just as a military sexual assault survivor but a former commanding officer that some infractions are so grievous that they must be elevated to a higher level than command. sending sexual assault cases to trained judges shows how seriously this crime is taken, that we will allow perpetrators to get away with this crime, and it reinforces the countless victims that they will be taken seriously. victims will feel more comfortable coming forward knowing their bosses will not be reading the intimate details. thank you for your time, for allowing me to share a small piece of my story with you.
ms. speier: thank you. ms. hanson: thank you for the opportunity to speak before you today. i'm the product support management for the air force. i have dedicated my career to serving our country. , then a a marine civil-service air force employee. i've always believed in my work and dedication to the military. i follow the military's procedures for reporting my sexual assault, the system failed to protect me and provide me with the justice that all employees deserve. i have been stationed all over the world. i read at honor as logistics.
i was working with a colonel who would become my sl. assailant. i did my best to keep things professional by ignoring his lewd texts, in appropriate behavior, insuring i was never alone with him and telling him to stop. andtually, he assaulted me i reported it to my civilian senior executive supervisor. my supervisor instructed me to file a report. a day after i filed the complaint, i received a text message from him admitting to his misconduct and admitting that he had abused his position of power. i follow the procedures but it only made the work-based hostile. i noticed i was treated differently by my colleagues and supervisor. i was left off of important
meetings, further straining my career. once the air force investigation was under way, i was told by general that several inquiries had been made. he planned to give the media a watered down version to make them lose interest. i protested. if anything should be released, it should be my assailant's official sheet. i wanted him to be held accountable and not have his inappropriate behavior downplayed. the general ignored my wishes. even worse, the general gave the same watered down statement to my fellow colleagues and air force staff, further discrediting my report. the generalthat transfer the kernel to a neighboring base so i could continue to do my job, but he refused. instead, the kernel was moved to buildings away, where i performed portions of my daily work. based on these events, i believe the general's interest was to
protect the kernel. the general offered to transfer me to a new location. this meant i would have to transfer my children out of the community they loved, a great school, a community they loved. at the time of the report, i was on the cusp of being promoted. because keeping my current job had become a burden, i was forced to really crispus promotion and transfer to florida. to start the healing process. as for the kernel, the investigation showed that he had admitted to sending over 400 text messages, sexually graphic voicemails and photos and using his position of power as intimidation. , the evidenceses here was overwhelming. through my special victims legal counsel, and a clear that any act taken against the kernel should include a finding that he
sexually assaulted me. wisheseral ignored my and allowed my assailant to retire honorably from the air force. at every turn, the air force went out of its way to shield him from the consequences of his misconduct and let me and/or his punishment. was -- my assailant was allowed to walk away scott free. i am rebuilding my career and butng a home for my family, i have lost faith in the system i've devoted my life to. , andlowed protocol expected to be treated fairly. instead, i was humiliated and ostracized. wasmately, my assailant allowed to retire with honor. reconsider the
inherent conflict of interest in allowing my chain of command to make decisions and examine the role of the commander in sexual assault prosecutions. thank you for the opportunity to speak to you today and i look forward to answering any questions. ms. speier: thank you. thank you for the opportunity to speak before you today. to share my story and --n a light on the systemic i graduated in the top 3% of my inss and soon after, arrived alabama to begin my career as an aviation officer. i became close friends with a mentor and fellow classmate who was going through a divorce. at flight school marriage to an officer who was given a leadership role. after sometime, his wife became my company commander. in a completely unrelated
situation, a different classmate of mine sexually assaulted me. classmatecurred, my was the only one i trusted enough to tell what happened to discuss filing a report. i knew that making an unrestricted report to hold my assailant accountable would mean that my commander would be notified and involved in matters of my sexual assault. that was enough for me to delay by several days. despite the potential conflict, i trusted in her professionalism and in the system's ability to treat an issue such as sexual assault with objectivity. my trust was misplaced. the sexual assault occurred on the sunday and i reported it to stay. friday, i was informed that the criminal investigative division was investigating me for adultery with my commander's husband. not only three days after i reported this all. my commander's of authority gave her access to higher command, my prosecutors, investigators and
country members. -- cadre members. when her husband came forth as a witness in my sexual assault case, the prosecutor links my case and my commanders personal situation. my commander had a pre-existing relationship with the installations commanding general. the authority responsible for deciding if my case would go to trial. my caseselieve her ability to move toward trial. unfortunately, i did not have a commander who was able to serve in the best interest of a sexual assault victim. the inherent conflict of interest in my chain of command made it impossible to have a truly objective case. my case did not move forward because the system failed to provide me with a conflict free process i deserve.
i was given a general memorandum of record, filed in my permanent record and effectively ended my career. a subsequent investigation found that the command subordinate relationship showed an obvious conflict of interest, which lead to lack of lower level support for me and confirmed my complaint. findings confirmed what i knew, it does nothing to give me my career or life back. i'm sometimes asked what we can do together to address military sexual assault. first, we need to believe victims. believing the victim does not mean charging or convicting the innocent, but the systemic fallacy of victims making false reports and declarations needs to stop. plagued byor, i was this false belief based on my personal circumstances. it is disgusting and absurd that this belief is so common. commanders absolutely have a role in addressing sexual
assault within their unit. they're responsible for the good order and discipline, along with decency and respect from their soldiers. we need to encourage commanders to act more when they can and not expect them to be professional law authorities and experts on the psychological complexities of sexual abuse. we need to raise our commanders to speak up and take action when misogynistic comments are made and reward them when they do. in my experience, those who utter inappropriate reports are more likely to commit acts of violence. my assailant -- if my sailing had been reported, he would've been out of the army before he had the access to rate me. -- rape me. the loss of my military career and might inability to trust organizations such as my military have impacted by an today. i struggle with accomplishing mentalnor tasks in my
health has to to be rated. i deserve better and the army lost a warrior. i am hopeful that my testimony will aid this committee in the scourgeo fight of sexual assault. thank you for your time. i will be happy to answer any questions. ms. speier: thank you. ms. darpino. darpino: [inaudible] ms. speier: have you turned on your microphone? darpino: i did the gratuitous thank you for inviting me here today and wanted to let you know that i'm ivice lieutenant general, served over 30 years in the army. i had important military justice positions and was a staff advocate. twice in a comment zone.
prior to my retirement in 2017, i had the honor of serving as the 39th judge advocate general. the military has problems translating our concepts into plain english, so i want to take a minute to explain what it means by good order and discipline, command authority and accountability. a commander is often equated with a parent. a commander is responsible for everything regarding their soldiers. commanders must ensure that their soldiers are fed, closed and housed just like a parent. they are responsible for their soldiers 24 hours a day, 365 days a year, just take a parent. like a parent, they are responsible to hold their soldiers accountable when they do not follow the rules. midnightset curfew at and your son comes home at 1:00, you meet him at the door and inform him that he is grounded for the weekend. you ensure good order and
discipline in your home and you do that by having disciplined that individual and hold them accountable. imagine if you had the authority -- you don't have the authority to ground your child. you would meet him at the door and state, you broke curfew, tomorrow morning, i am going to go next door and ask the lawyer if i can ground you. that is what happens when you set the responsibility for good order and discipline from the ability to hold someone accountable. example,ot a perfect but it is just to give you an example what we mean when we say good order and discipline and the ability to hold someone accountable and how they are intertwined. holding authority for court-martial away from commanders does not just affect a small number of commanders, as previously stated. first, congress has withheld the
authority to convene general court for very serious crimes to a level where we have commanders that have extraordinary experience and they are advised byevery step of the way extraordinarily experienced staff judge advocates. that is a good thing. levelommanders at each exercise court-martial authority . at the lowest level, that authority may be exercised through the peripheral of charges that are forwarded up the chain of command to the appropriate level to convene a court. even with nonjudicial punishment, a commander seeking to impose it does so with a commitment that they will try the offenses at a court-martial, declined theldier article 15 nonjudicial punishment. pulling court-martial authority from commanders affects every level of command.
additionally, proposed legislation that i have looked at includes broad swats of crimes. classic discipline offenses such as barracks larceny, serious offenses.ug again, while some would argue a commander could still impose nonjudicial punishment in those cases, she only has the authority when she asks the lawyer's permission and the lawyer commits to try that case, should the soldier turn it down. truthfully, when you walk into a unit, the first thing you see is a line of pictures. the soldiers know that represents the chain of command and the chain of authority. orders run down the chain and enforcement of discipline comes from that chain. no commander should have to go next door to ask a staff officer
if they may discipline their soldier. i look forward to discussing this with you. ms. speier: thank you. let me start by asking the three very courageous women here a simple question. was the response of the military in your reporting your sexual the rape ise than tself? just raise your hand. all three of you, basically saying that as horrendous as the sexual assault was, the prospect -- the process that the military used to provide justice was worse. elliott,t commander you have indicated to me that you had been recently providing
at various locations. could you tell us about that and what has happened since? for the past couple of years, i have been invited to speak by different groups, just to share my experiences and what i went through with the military sexual assault survivor. units toed through the receive this training and received positive feedback. last week, i received an email telling me i am no longer allowed to use -- to do this for any type of training and my talking points were inconsistent with the current navy program. when i called to speak to the person who sent me this email, i raw, it wasas too too real and there was a lot of negatives in my story, but i could work on this in if i
wanted to talk about the positives, that would be ok. i think that is sugarcoating the issue. the reason we don't address it seriously is we don't want to address what it really is. ms. speier: do think your case would have been handled differently if it was given to a different commander who didn't have a conflict of interest? ms. bapp: entirely, yes, i do. down to good commanders and bad commanders. it goes down to the fact that commanders are people. we are fallible, human. it is not the my commander was a bad commander. i'm sure she would not want that on her plate, but there is an inherent conflict of interest. it is one thing for me to trust someone who was my, but for me to trust the command in the that i am assigned to risk my life for in order to serve my country, when that failed me, that had a huge
impact on the outcome of everything and our psychological well-being. even if my assailant wasn't prosecuted, trusting in the system would have been a wholly more adequate response. ms. speier: you indicated that you received over 400 text messages that were sexual in nature. whether also videos or photographs sent to you? ms. hanson: yes. he sent explicit voicemails and on a government computer sent inappropriate emails. he would also set up meetings and when i would inquire what the purpose was, he would be like, it is just to get you alone and i would make sure that i had another overlapping meeting so i couldn't attend his meeting. attend ae i had to meeting, i would make sure i was never alone with him. he self-admitted to every bit of it. he admitted to physically attacking me, to sending
to sending text messages. every bit of it. ms. speier: did you ask that the case be sent to court-martial? ms. bapp: yes ma'am. ms. speier: what happened? ms. bapp: he received an article 15 and was allowed to retire from the air force. ms. speier: and he gets full benefits? ms. hanson: yes ma'am. christiansenolonel , in your testimony, you had indicated that when all is said thedone, less than 1% of convening authorities actually use their prosecutorial authority for purposes of a court-martial. is that correct? mr. christianson: 1% of commanders. i disagree with lieutenant general. i do not agree that a commander can punish without permission of a jag. that is not true.
every action that a commander takes to punish a member has to be reviewed for legal sufficiency by the jag. a commander convened authority cannot send the case to trial without the staff judge advocate giving them legal advice that meets the requirements of article 34. they have to get the advice. it is dismissive to call them staff officers. they have to have permission to do certain things. what they do not have to have permission of is to not do anything. so, if the commander wants to do nothing, there is nothing a jag can do. that is where the disconnect is. commanders, because of the inherent abuse of authority that , many restraints have been placed on a commander's ability to punish, that there is not the same kind of restraint on the ability to ignore, where
the evidence was overwhelming, the accused had confessed, and the victim is asking, demanding, sent a personal email to the convening authority, begging him to send it to court. instead, because he liked that colonel and thought he was a good person, allowed him to retire. that is what the issue is and i , tok it is also offensive consider this the equivalent of a parent child relationship. a parent is not qualified, just like a commander isn't to criminally prosecute their children, and no parent ever would criminally prosecute their children. that is the problem. the inherent bias of command. it speier: the recent dod 82 sexual assault cases and found that in 77, victims were not asked their preference for where their case
would be tried or that the preference was not recorded. are you concerned by this failure to comply with federal law? what does it mean to you that there is no system for recording victim's preference? mr. christensen: i'm very concerned. every branch responded and said they didn't track the numbers. they had no idea how many people had been informed of whether -- or whether they were even informing them. is survivors were talked out they were of going to civilians. congress made an important change to law to give greater choices. there are times when a victim would be much better off having their case adjudicated by civilian authorities. there are times when it would be better having the military do it. that is a choice that a victim
has been given by you. it is not up to the government, not up to the military to ignore that choice. i'm very concerned. almost two on notice years ago that this was an issue and it was not until the duty -- dod ig report came out that they seemed to care. this is not the only time congress has imposed new requirements on the dod and the have ignored them. the dod was told specifically by congress, you will no longer sex cases toive summary courts. they will only go to general courts. the ipad report that came out last week showed a number of occasions where penetrative sex assault cases are going to special courts and summary courts, not even a real court. that is done in direct violation
of a law that was passed by this congress. ms. speier: do you have any comments? ms. haring: no. not at this time. ms. speier: my last question would be, for each of you, what changes should be make or what provisions should be put in the ndaa to rectify some of these , short of taking these cases out of the chain of command? mr. christensen: i can't go first. another issue that congress has addressed is to increase the quality of the prosecutors. thehave mandated that
services create litigation tracks for prosecutors. i am against going swimming upstream, was able to prosecute cases my entire career. the average air force jag quits after two or three years and we have a few that might go on to a second or third assignment. there are very few experienced prosecutors. that is one thing. push these gentlemen behind me for answers to why they have not created senior litigators. air force has not had a colonel go into court-martial since i left. why is that the case? the second thing, and i think, you would agree with me. the investigative stage is the most critical part of the criminal justice process. is,atter how good a lawyer if there is a bad investigation, it is hard to overcome. our investigators are often experienced, eager, they try
hard, but these are complex cases and you need good investigators. congress, you the need to ask tough questions. why have you not prioritized real experience with your investigators? a three-year tour is not enough. it needs to be something that is a career track for investigators. ms. speier: are you suggesting they should be civilian? mr. christensen: there are civilian investigators and -- in every one of the investigative services. ishink what you need to do give those in the military great opportunity to continue in that track. i know it goes against their career model, but it is 2019. using a career model from the 1940's is probably not the best thing to do. let investigators be very investigators. -- be investigators. ms. speier: thank you.
colonel haring. ms. haring: this is a hard question, because i do not believe the solution is in the justice system. i think the problems lie within our culture and we have not acknowledged that we have got a cultural problem or how do we address the cultural problem that allows for harassment and assault to assist in the first place? one thing our organization has long worked for is systemic military culture change. one place we have called attention to is that when soldiers first joined the military services, they are indoctrinated early, when they are very young at basic training and we continue to see the highest rates of harassment exist in the one service that continues to segregate men and women during basic training, and that is the marine corps. i think this needs to begin at the entry-level and go all the way through. our training and education
systems. -- i't think to mental don't think incremental changes to the criminal justice system are the answer. ms. elliott: two things i recommend, we all have training every year, and it depends on the trainer who gives it. we don't take things seriously that we need to. whenever we do training in the navy, we have women are raped and men are groped. we don't talk about men being not a dressinge the uncomfortable issues. we just gloss over them. a discussion i had after one of the presentations i did with a vice admiral is i feel part of the problem when we're doing a lot ofning is we do consequences based training. it don't do this, because if you do, your career is over. it should be, we don't do this because we are good people and
good sailors and we take care of each other. we need to focus on that, saying, we don't do it because it's wrong. change tore has been the uc mj. i believe retaliation reports need to be looked at outside the chain of command, because when you have people inside the chain of command looking at retaliation within their command , that defeats the purpose, because they don't want a bad climate. they might not necessarily see that. needs to be a it huge organization, but it needs to be someone who is not in there at all. people,'t know these they are coming to look if there is some type of retaliation. ms. speier: thank you. ms. hanson. ms. hanson: i agree with your comments. i believe that retaliation is prevalent in all of our cases. when i go to the chain of command, i'm reporting it to the
same people that retaliated against me. that is basically ineffective. we are required to sit through training every year and it is basically, here we go again. we have to go back through these slides. they call it death by powerpoint. jokes are made about it. i am not saying more training needs to happen, but it needs to be realistic and up-to-date. it is not just a couple things on the slide and then we are done and walk out the door and forget everything everybody said. ms. bapp: my biggest piece of advice would be zero tolerance. i know that word has been thrown around. i am not talking about zero tolerance with sexual assault. i think everyone in this room can agree zero-tolerance for sexual assault. how can we get everybody in the same page? it is zero-tolerance over the
smallest level. i mentioned how crude and lewd comments were made and how easily they were thrown around, of a demeaning nature, misogynistic, those need to stop. i am not saying we need to necessarily punish the soldiers to do that. we need to positively reinforce the commanders to say hey, cut that out, that is not right. in a similar situation with gay comments -- personally i don't hear that as much. there was a commercial and kids saw a sweater they did not like and said oh, that's so gay. a commercial is stepping up by saying, do you mean lame? let's change that culture. that's how we can empower our commanders. to truly believe in that. i believe most people who join the military are good people at heart and they want to have
effective combat missions. in order to do that, we need this positive culture. we need to stand out in the comments. -- stamp out the comments. that does not make you more of a man to make those comments. we need to integrate that into our training and incentivize commanders to lead in that capacity rather than just laying down the hammer. >> thank you. the culture discussions we were talking about and how managers are responsible over well taken. thank you ladies for sharing nd the training you have done when it comes to educating the force. justof it is the ipad that came out last week that had looked at multiple, multiple cases of sexual assault. these are done by federal
judges and civilian prosecutors. they reviewed them down to the nitty-gritty. they found that commanders are making both appropriate decisions when it came to preferal, sending them to trial, and in not sending them to trial. with that in mind, we often have to look at the other recommendations which have to do with expedited transfers, and how we can ensure we are having expedited transfers, or moving the accused in a case where you have a great commander and you do not want to leave. tohave to look at ways assist victims still. we are not done there. we have to help ourselves find offenders. when we have restricted cases, we often don't know who that defendant is, because it is in a database commanders can't see.
if we are able to link the different offenders together and go back to our victims and say it's happened to someone else, would you like us to prosecute that? i think there are places we can improve our system. something has to be done. the ipad had some great recommendations, even though they did support the commander system. >> thank you. >> thank each of you victims again for sharing your story. i don't know how difficult that is, but i appreciate how difficult it is -- maybe that is the better way to say that. lieutenant commander elliott, offline, if you will provide me the name of the person who told you it is wrong, i would love that follow-up. >> yes sir, i will. >> that is inappropriate and i will see if i can get a different response.
training, ms. ha nson, trust me, we have to work on that. we have to get it right so people aren't making jokes. thank you. that is a valid point. thank you.istensen, someone who knows what they are doing at the early stages is critical to any case i prosecuted anyway. -- i prosecuted anywhere. thank you for the very valid comment. ,ieutenant commander elliott retaliation -- we need folks to understand there is an i.g. that gets you outside the chain of command. we have a chain of command in place, we have to make sure folks know how to use it. general, i think there is a perception commanders make that
you make decisions in a vacuum. what happens if a lawyer and commander disagree? >> an earlier speaker actually mentioned this. it was colonel christensen. he stated lawyers are involved in these processes at every level. they are advising commanders at every level. just like a lawyer presents to a grand jury, which is a group of civilians. they present all the evidence in the case and lay it out for them. that is what lawyers do for our commanders. they lay out the case and give them advice on what is the appropriate disposition. the commander who is responsible for discipline can make that decision. in a sexual assault case, should a commander to side they, against the advice of their
advocate, not to send that into trial? that goes to the next level commander for review, to an even higher level commander to review. should an sexual assault case an s advocateay -- an advocate say this should not go to trial and the commander agrees, that case goes up also for further review. in fact, if they follow the advice of your attorney, it goes up to the secretary of the military department concerned. if we are concerned prosecutors are somehow being sidelined -- if a prosecutor believes a case is being brushed under the rug and should in fact be tried, they can refer not to the chief prosecutor of their military service and that can be acted on by the secretary. these cases are pulled up to the highest level, reviewed by the best lawyers and commanders
cannot rush -- cannot brush them under the rug. some citing removing the commander from sexual assault prosecution will remove unlawful command influence. can you explain what unlawful command influence is, and if it would be eliminated from these cases? >> it has the word command and it. many people think unlawfu command influence can only be accomplished by a commander. case law is clear that is not the case. mentioned astensen number of recent cases where the court found unlawful command influence, 60% had to do with a lawyer being the one who unlawfully influenced the court. a commander was not involved. the third case had to do with a deliberation where it was a panel member who brought
politics into a deliberation rep. room.-- a deliberation it is really only one of those cases that have to do with a commander that had unlawful command influence. forget the word command, it is when someone influences a case that has a position of authority. lawyers can do it too. rep. kelly: what is the lowest level of command that can decide whether a sexual offense should go to trial? >> that is withheld by congress, and rightfully so. the services that already withheld it to this level because they thought it was the right answer. that is at the 0-6 level, which is a brigade commander. and the other services it would be a commander -- captain, i'm sorry. it is already withheld to the very highest level. they have lawyers who advise them at that level.
they are not doing blind. rep. kelly: i'm kind of a glass half full kind of guy. lots went wrong . each one of you survivors -- it went wrong. let's learn from the things that went right too. you survivors -- i don't like victims, you are survivors and you are much better than that. what part of the process worked good for you? ut what that is fine, b part worked well for you? >> when i did first go on restricted, my commander had a very supportive commanding officer. he went way above and beyond what he should have been required to do. that helped me a lot. we won't talk about the bad parts that happened afterwards. we have the victims legal counsel program that we started several years ago. i know ms. bapp had a different
experience, but i had a very positive experience. she was my lawyer. she represented my interests as opposed to the government's interest. everything she did, she was always there with me. that was a good part of the program, a very positive change. i know they are very overworked and that is something we can expand upon. i think that would help a lot of people. >> i was also assigned a special victims counsel by the air force. she assisted me. she was there every step of the way. one part that they could tweak a little bit is that she was assigned to me as a captain and she was going up against a colonel, three-star general. she was great. she was phenomenal and amazing,
but she also ran into rank issues and admitted it along the way as well. >> i had a different experience fds. getting to my once i found my way through the advice of a family member, i had a phenomenal experience with him. basically everything outside of my chain of command, the resources made available to me. my therapist -- she was a saving grace. absolutely phenomenal woman. up until there was a conflict of interest. he represented my commander in a totally unrelated instance, so he had to remove himself. i lost an integral support structure. but then i got another one and he was fabulous. outside of the chain of command,
no one believed me. but they believed me, and they wanted to help. that was the most positive experience i had. rep. kelly: thank you for your amazing service to this nation and for your warrior spirit. i yield back. around theget decision made in ms. hanson's case. there was called evidence. -- cold evidence. she wanted a court-martial. it never went to court-martial and he went to retire with full benefits. how do you explain that? how does that command control influence? >> i don't know enough about ms. hanson's case about what she said today. i don't know who made the decisions, so i can't say. i can go back to what the ipad
found where they reviewed actual cases, not theoretical cases, but actual cases. they found the decision of the commander to prefer or not preferred those cases was found. i think there are cases where lawyers make mistakes too. it isn't a cure all to just replace one person with another. you are still going to have human error. rep. speier: i have a lot of high regard for the daca ipad. you are referring to the standard they used was reasonable and they didn't define reasonable. in reviewing the cases, they had two people that would review each case, and the likelihood was they would make the finding that it was reasonable, but it wasn't based on some standard, it was a very subjective review. chair, andu madam
thank you to all of you for being here. ofis really the testimony women and some men like you that came forward a number of years some of the changes were created. it is a result of that. so i think we have to go beyond that. the special victims counsel particularly was one that came out of those discussions. found so that i disgusting was that the few individuals who had been assigned to help victims were treated so poorly. part of what we discovered was we need to have people who are given the benefit of good, solid training in order to play a significant role. what i would like to know --
because a lot of you have mentioned -- whether there has been any erosion of that? maybe you have a sense of it, whether they are playing that vital role or in some cases they are not seen as professional, whatever that might be, in order to play it. most of you have testified you think that was helpful. we want to be sure it continues to be helpful and that the person has the tools to advocate so strongly. >> congresswoman davis, thank you again. eier havehairman sp been two of the earliest leading voices on this, so thank you. and victims legal counsel program have been the most significant change made to the
military justice process. i want to make it perfectly clear, the military was not happy about it. i was there when it happened. some of the people who testified how great it was specifically called it stupid and i need, but -- unneeded, but they have changed their tune. the biggest weakness comes from the lack of experience. their first case is the first client they have talked to. i think you get better with experience. as was pointed out, the huge rank disparity. this is one of the problems also went the prosecutors. your captains or majors going up against a lieutenant general. it tamps down dissent.
rep. davis: thank you. i will move on quickly because of time constraints, but certainly in terms of rank i think that is important. the retaliation is such an important concern here. we have some -- i think -- training to help solve the problem to intervene. it is like don't let your friend drive drunk. don't let someone do something stupid and continue to do it, intervene. the retaliation piece -- what would change if we were making a difference without going up the chain of command? i think one of the things i kept hearing during the last number of years, certainly as we started these discussions, is in many cases, the commander wants to bring the case to trial.
the jags were looking more like they would if they were a prosecutor in the community, they want cases they can deliver on. where do you see that coming down? in some cases, the commanders are more aggressive about wanting to make sure this case goes to a court-martial. in my personal opinion, that is why they should go to trained military judges. the system is broken on both sides. as survivors, we feel we have been mistreated a lot. when he looked on the other side, they are saying the same thing, officers are being too aggressive. rep. davis: how would that affect retaliation? >> in retaliations at every level, it can be from your peers, from anybody, but when
you remove it outside of the chain of command, it is no longer "we don't like this person because she put the boss whatever,ituation" or it is completely removed. rep. davis: part of the concern these cases many of that go on -- probably most of the time. we have to be focused on command climate and being clear people are accountable for what goes on in their unit. not kind of discussion is acceptable and will be punished. i am not sure we have the judges to be able to deal with all of those individuals -- those individual accounts that occur. we have to deal with them on the ground. give us the tools.
we are happy to respond to those questions. that is important to all of us. >> thank you all for being here today, especially thank you to the three of you for sharing these stories. i know they are difficult situations and this is difficult to do in a public context. having been a commanding officer myself, and i know several others who may not be present on the committee have had commanded the military -- i value the tools that you see mj gave to me as a the ucmj gave to me commander. i would have to refer to my next in the chain of command. that was a recommendation i made reviewing the full facts of the case to the next level imaging command. -- in the chain of command. i appreciate the remarks lieutenant general made.
i know she did not read her statement in full. as she says in her written statement and as i was thinking about this leading up to the hearing, we trust our commanders to take our sons and daughters into war. we trust them to make decisions when people are risking their lives, but yet we are sitting here questioning whether we trust them to make decisions about the well-being of the people with a command -- people who they command. i believe there is a disconnect. as the lieutenant general mentioned in her comments, those duties of responsibility are inextricably tied to command. ensen, can you elaborate on the statement you made, i trust military lawyers to make that decision, meaning the decision about these cases, more than you trust commanders? mr. christensen: we trust commanders to make
life-and-death decisions when it comes to combat. that is because that is their profession. that is what they are trained in. you are a fighter pilot, you are trained to lead that fighter pilot squadron. that is what you have done. you have gone to read flag -- red flag. >> when we are talking about the level of a general court-martial convening authority, the 30 plus years the commander has had to get to that position, do you not acknowledge they have had to go through numerous decisions where they had to take into account the discipline of their command and the ucmj and the use of that ? my greatest concern is that there are many tools in the commander's toolkit outside of convening a court-martial. reviewing the background material we were given by staff before this case, which included
the subcommittee of the judicial proceedings panel report on barriers to the fair at a menstruation of sexual -- fair administration of sexual assault cases -- long title. thesebasically that when -- sorry, i lost my train of thought. there are numerous things we have changed in a policy is and procedures, such as a article 32 hearing. when it is not referred to a court-martial, there is not enough evidence for it to reach a conviction, there are other tools a commander has. other than on the ship, a sailor or soldier or airman can refuse article 15. you find yourself in a position where people sea lawyer themselves where they are on track to a court-martial.
a commander has other tools they can use, especially in the case where there is not enough ondence, but it is still track to a court-martial and someone can plea-bargain. therefore the commander can use tools like separation surface reduction, things that are way more punishment than could ever happen in the civilian system, because those tools don't exist. in the time remaining, could you please comment on that? >> thank you for those,. -- those comments. these are extraordinarily difficult cases to try. i am not speaking about the three victim's cases today. the majority of actions are junior enlisted women. the offenders are either junior enlisted soldiers or junior nc'' s. they occur in barracks on fridays and saturday nights.
alcohol is involved, and there is no one else present. those are extraordinarily difficult cases to try. that is why the prosecution rates are lower in the civilian sector because, as we heard previously, a grand jury is not typically going to. a commander, however, because it affects good order and discipline, the army is trying 50% of their cases. 50% of their trials are sexual assault cases. conviction rates are relevant to this discussion, because it is lawyers who try cases, not the commanders, so conviction rates are not relevant. 50% go to trial. those that are not able to -- we track every case and send a spreadsheet to the hill.
we tell you exactly what we did with them. we use those other tools, nonjudicial punishment, kicking someone out of the military. it isn't a perfect system. it isn't a perfect system, but you don't throw away an entire system, the baby out with the bathwater, when you already have made so many changes and rewrote hat just wentng t into effect three months ago. >> thank you chairwoman for holding this hearing, and thank you for sharing your stories. our obligation to make it better. how do we actually monitor how commanders deal with these offenses?
-- il just elaborate believe when lieutenant commander elliott says when she started her case, i believe it was your first commander -- you had a lot of confidence that you were going to be taken care of, but then that changed. i am sure there are different acceptance rates of those tools -- there are ways to fix that variability. i am wondering, what are we doing today to take the variation out of the problem? >> that is why we have all these surveys that we conduct in the military. we are kind of often like the canary in the coal mine. you see a lot of the issues ofsed seen with the mirror the military raised at society. one of the surveys that goes directly to the issue is we have
command climate surveys within all the services. we ask a series of questions. we task of them, do they trust -- ask them, do they trust their command? do they promote a climate against sexual assault? e walk and acth appropriately? we poll service members. i can give you a number that sounds great, but if we focus on just the victims and offenders, which is our junior enlisted and nco's, that number out of 4 is 3.3. we use these surveys. guess what? the next level command who does the rating gets to see that survey. if they see problems, that is how they know.
an anonymous survey. rep. trahan: do we take time to 3.3ly do a deep dive on the ? >> a series of questions, congresswoman. rep. trahan: the systemic military culture change -- does anyone on this panel no -- is this an internally run culture change, or are we bringing outside experts in to help with the culture change? can someone speak to that? >> in recent years the military dod has hired a number of experts and run them inside the military. at the last panel, dr. van winkle spoke. i don't know what degree of latitude they are able to exercise once they have been brought in. rand does do some of the
research. but they are quasi independent. so i would love to see is d.o.d. hire a red team type of organization to evaluate and analyze the work that they're doing. >> it would be great if we could have visibility into the culture change project just only because -- i've never seen a stronger culture, and, you know,, there are movies about how strong the culture is. i mean, the levers are so -- are so clear to me in terms of changing the culture they don't feel as though it's a three-year process. it's likely more closer on the an instant. my last question is on the special victims council program. my predecessor played a key role along with the chairwoman and congresswoman davis in its creation.
like any program, i'm sure it quires improvement since its inception. despite the rank december party or maybe you have questions on how we fix the rank december party. there are suggestions in terms of us making that process better . >> i think one thing it has to be made clear to the special victims' council and the v.o.c. that their duty is entirely to their client. there are not there to make their services look better or avoid embarrasses. that's something we heard from s.v.c.'s that they're getting from the top town -- down is to get the victim from through the process. it may be very beneficial for a victim to come to congress or to go to the media. ut i think most v.l.c.'s and s.b.c.'s feel like they cannot do that.
>> ok. thank you. i ran out of time. >> all right. colonel christiansen, colonel herring, lieu tetant hardpino, thank you for your participation. ms. hansen, ms. map. particularly the t-jags that are going to come afterwards are going to have burnished in your minds your comments that the process that you endured after your rapes was worse than the rapes itself. so i want to thank you for the courage that you've shown. i apologize on behalf of the united states government and our military that you have endureed what you have endured. and i want to make sure that you have every level of support that you need as you move forward.
and i hope you will always feel comfortable coming to me in particular if you have any problems in that regard. before closing this down, mr. cisneros has returned. so he's going to have his five minutes of questions. mr. cisneros: thank you, madam chair. i had to make another appearance at a committee hearing and ask my questions there. but i want to thank you all for being here and i want to thank the three of you especially for sharing your story. i know it's very brave of you to do that. lapino, i waseral troubled by your analogy. i totally agree the job of the commanding officer to maintain good order and discipline just like a parent is able to discipline their child when they come home late, they miscurfew
and the commanding -- miss curfew and the commanding officer can do that. if somebody misses their curfew. or on ay're in the navy ship they're allowed to do that. but if a child goes and commit as serious crime, the parent is not allowed to say i'm going to discipline them and i'll take care of it. so why would we do it differently than a commanding officer? if there's a serious crime why do we allow the commanding officer to make that determination as to how he's going to make the decision? >> yes, thank you. and i just said it wasn't a perfect analogy and it was really one to demonstrate how command authority is linked with the able to hold someone accountable. i did not intend for it to be used as the perfect example. but an example that might help to illustrate it that has to do
with what we do, a court element of what we do as war fighters is that in the case of a war violation in combat, it is the commander that you would expect to be able to send that message to everyone else, but to go out in the village and murder citizens is not acceptable. you would expect that a commander would be the one who would stand before the troops and send that message by sending that case to a court martial. and so that -- that example san example where the two are linked based upon exactly what it is that we do as an army and our service to our nation. >> you know, hear your analogy but a lot of these situations are not happening in a wartime situation. i can recall a situation where there was an officer who committed, i mean, we'll call it
a crime, was removed from the ship the next day. and the seal had nothing to do with it. you are a commanding officer. i have this question for you if your view are commanding officers adequately trained to handle sexual assaults as a unit? >> absolutely. not. we're to provide the training -- to prevent sexual assault and to take care of our victims if they're assaulted. but we're not -- we're not vudges. i mean, i have a three-day legal course before i became an commanding officer. and that was the extent of my legal training i feel like we're given good tools to address the program. we could fur sure improve and like anything else it depends on who is providing us our training and what our bosses find important. but i do not feel like we are
trained as commanding officers to be able to make these decisions about, you know, felons by any means. >> and i just have one last question for all of you and colonel herring you mentioned this in your opening remarks. but -- and i'm just going read it back. where is it? sex crimes have never been treated with the same level of outrage or professionalism as other serious crimes. do you all agree with that? >> no. >> colonel christiansen? >> generally true, yes. but some units offices are better. others aren't. i think there's general belief -- a view of disbelief. >> colonel, i'm going to assume you agree with it. >> not only do i agree, but history is replete with examples
not just within the military but across our institutions where sex crimes against women are just not treated -- perpetrators are not held to the level -- the same levels of accountability as other types of crimes. >> lot commander elliott? >> yes, sir, i would agree with that. as example that this happened two years ago. i witnessed a young lady i mentored someone very hard grabbed her rear end. and the person that did that got a slap on the risk. two months later found out he made chief. and they allowed him to go ahead and become a chief petty officer. where there were two e-5's that broke curfew. weren't doing anything wrong and they're now e-4. so the joke in the command it's ok to sexually assault somebody but it's not ok to break curfew. >> i'm out of my time but if we
could real quick a yes or no, ms. hanson, ms. bap? >> i agree as well. in my case it was my boss and my colonel. secretary heather wilson made the statement, an official written statement that his record was taken into consideration in this case. so i believe that we've lost the bubble and control of where we need be at. >> ms. bapp? >> i think less about the prosecution than the criminal act. but the complexities of sexual of abuse and abuse of power that's misunderstood and at the core root. i would say that's the bigger issues than sex crimes. general darpino? > i definitely think more work
needs to be done. high school, hollywood and the halls of congress. and that we need to focus on this issue and not take our eye off the ball. >> thank you very much, madam chair. >> lot commander, you indicated that you have three days of legal training. how much of that was set aside for sexual assault? >> i believe it was about a two-hour block. >> two hours out of 72 or -- >> two hours about 29. so about 10% or less than 10%. >> less than 10%. >> may i ask a question? >> at what level did you command what level? >> i was commander -- >> that's an 0-4, correct? >> yes, sir. >> and the loyest level in which decisions on sexual assault is , correct?el
>> yes, sir. >> i got a precommand core before going to back tallian command. so there are different levels that you commanned at -- commanded at the 04 level e. and we had 06's in the same class. i don't know if they got anything additional. >> chairwoman, i appreciate all of you being here today. going to hear most of the testimony and i also had to run out. eartbreaking stories and testimonies that happened to you. i could feel the pain and the hurt from that. i thank you for sharing. i think it's important for our society and the folks watching rupp said that we have infallible commanders. >> i should say fallible judges,
i'm sorry. we have fallible commanders. fallible judges. fallible district attorneys and we see imperfection everywhere you in this area that's never acceptable. i was a five-time commander with the air force. i inherited one unit that had the highest sexual assault rates i think that we had at the air force at ram stein. my first week in command i said do about this? we're going to hold people accountbility. if we didn't have a verdict that was certain, we went to court martial. the -- marshall. the victim had a chance particularly her to speak before the jury but also the accused. and our conviction rates came up. and we ended up having one of .he lowest sexual assault cases
i put a picture of the guilty and how many years in jail they got. i wanted every squadron to see it. i wanted deterrence to see it as well. there are examples of failures, but i think there are thousands of examples of conscientious commander who is pour out their heart to get this right every time. i would like to ask one question to general darpino. do we have any confidence that a judge or a district attorney would have anymore infallibility than our commanders who for the most part 99% of time love their service, love their units. >> i think you hit on a key point is what i was saying earlier. the violence against women is a societal problem. and society as a whole has to grapple with this.
we are the canary on the coal mine, whatever it is you want to say. and there are a lot of organizations that track this kind of stuff. what we find is and i'm looking or my card when i write down numbers, even though i'm a lawyer, i am a person. the rand which considers themselvess the largest anti-sexual violence organization. heir numbers are horrifying. our court martial are sexual assault cases. 995 of 1,000 women -- accused walk free in the civilian ector. one out of six women are attempted rapes outside. having lawyers in charge of this system would fix the system, we wouldn't see numbers like this
in civilian society. and so no, i don't believe that lawyers are any better. and when we send our folks for training that do these sexual assault cases to d.a.'s office because crime units convictions rates matter to attorneys. commanders care about good order and discipline. and it's not perfect. and there's a lot of discussion about commanders. and we're talking about company command and below. we're not talking about the 06 and above who handles the sexual assault cases. i don't mean to minimize in other way the other panel members' testimony. >> madam chair, thank you for your time. this is an important issue. i appreciate you giving me a chance to join you. >> ok. thank you. again, our gratitude to all of you for participating in the
lot general jeffrey rockwell if judge advocate general for the air force. lesse? r general daniel >> lecci. >> the commandant to the marine corps. all right. mr. petey, would you like to begin? >> members of the committee, thank you. we have the best army in the world because of commanders, not in spite of them. our army is the most effective force on the battlefield because our commanders and our soldiers are the product of a justice system that for 243 years has rested in the hands of those who fight and win our wars commanders. i have worked for over 15 years of our professional life often directly with this committee especially with the tectonic challenges to article 120 in 2007. i was personally involved in
secretary gearrin's efforts to resource this fight and head our special victims prosecution program as well as a special victim councils program. i thank this committee for it leadership on this issue. i appear before you recognizing there is still much work to do. while i disagree with the charactization of individual lapses as system etic failures, one omission or failures is too many. i recognize there's much the army and the services can still do as the army judge advocate general i can tell you we are relentless -- relentless after getting after this problem. protecting victims, our communities and those accused. in short, the commander will always be the fulcrum to any solution in the army at every level of command. and so it is and must be with sexual assault. all of us in this room recognize
there is no easy solution. i've been fighting this crime hand in hand with commanders for 31 years but certainly no solution excludes military commanders. in single out the supposed 1% who convened general court suggestioning these are the only the proposed by legislation fundamentally misses the command authority and the sublime authority between the leader and the lead. look at our current housing crisis, we outsourced our responsibility for housing our soldiers. who do our families look for solution? who do you look to drive change? soldiers look to our commanders. every town hall is hosted by a commander. this is because there is no set of leaders on this earth that are trained, better educated, resourced and more consistently successful than the american commander. the notion that stripping
commanders of authority over serious crimes will reduce crime results in more or better prosecutions or higher conviction rates is simply not supported by any empirical evident. the problem situation is disproved by the empirical evidence. we know the congressional mandated studies where diverse panels of experts have examined the justice system who heard from thousands of hours of testimony, they reported back to you one critical decision, the commander should not be removed from the justice system. the third annual report issued last week that has been referenced determine that in 95% of the cases commanders reviewed correctly in charging decisions. no command abuses. i've heard general, you haven't
moved the leader and it's getting worse. assault case compromised 18% in army court rooms. the needle and my apologies in 2018 that percentage is now 50%. 5-0. the needle has indeed moved. and this is because commanders at all levels have set priorities, established expectations and have driven culture change. this is not a coincidence. the scope of sexual assault crieses in our society -- in our army is as big as the society from which we draw or soldiers. as you know our army is refreshed every year with 70 thourblings new soldiers from every city in america. and we draw from that society and we face the common problems. a highly esteemed jufert released a study that showed -- university released a study that showed 48% of their females experience sexual assault. 18 to 22% had reported an assault. i show these statistics not to
blame elsewhere or to disfract the 4347b9% prevalence rate in the army but to reflect that it is a societal problem. and it's a demographic issue in many respects that we all own and have to address. because we do. the army owns this problem. discipline is the soul of the army and it still is. it's in our d.n.a. staking away a commander's view over discipline including to pr prosecute and court marshall will fundamentally compromise the readiness and le thatity of our army today and on the next battlefield. let's remember you're trying to give this authority to those sitting before you, 112 years of legal experience on this panel is saying our nation will regret t in the next battlefield. you passed fundamentally earlted our justice system starting just 12 weeks ago.
we spent the last 18 months training those changes. the changes only began 12 weeks ago. i would appreciate -- while i appreciate the desire to see change with the criminal justice system we must exercise some measure of strategic patience to insure our changes have healthy consequences. further, we cannot forget or obligation to those accused of crime. we each in this room -- >> you alreadied exceeded your time by a minute. could you wrap up? >> yes, ma'am. we have a sacred obligation. we are not perfect and we are truly an accountable system. i thank your committee for the time, ma'am. >> thank you. vials admiral hanock. >> madam chair and members of the subcommittee, thanks for the chance to share with you today. the testimony of the panel reminds everybody of the importance to reduce sexual assault with the goal of eliminate this crime from our
ranks. it's worthwhile to keep in mind that we all share this goal even when there are multiple views on the precise steps that will help us get there. in my written statement, i outlined the role of the commander in adjudication of exual assault cases in the navy. first there's an investigation by the naval service. and and i independent one by the naval review by the prosecutors. this investigation, the prosecution merits review along with the victim and the victim's legal council then goes to an 6 commander for a legal provision. and if it proceeds in the legal system there are further reviews involving both lawyers and commanders. these commanders are known as the sexual assault initial disposition authority and the general court martial authority. i support the role these
commanders have in making the initial disposition cases on charges and in cases to court marshall. my written statement also noted what i think are some threshold questions in considering whether to remove the role of the commander. question one, would removing commanders convene authority decrease the prevalence of sexual assault? question two, would it increase the reporting of sexual assault incidents? and question three, would it improve case disposition decisions? now, on the first two questions, whether a change would decrease the prevalence or decrease the reporting of sexual assault, we have the benefit of the 2014 report of the congressionally directed response systems panel. and after studying changes to the military justice system or allies and hearing from many witnesses on both sides of the argument, this was the
conclusion shared by seven of the nine panel members. yet, the evident does not support removing authorities from senior commanders will decrease sexual assault or the reports of sexual assault. today, when i speak with leadership of our legal council program, their sense is similar. based on their work, they don't think that the veening authority issue is a significant barrier to rorget. >> on the third question, whether the removal of veening authority would disprove case disposition decisions. we have the benefit of recent report. and it's review of 164 sample cases that got that concluded, that the disposition decisions of commanders were reasonable in 95% of them. as noted before, the committee concluded that its review
revealed no sign of systemic problems with the rnlableness with the commanders' decisions on cases involving a pen tray active sexual assault. i look forward to the report that they will submit next year in 2020 that will expand its work to include the 2,000 investigative cases it is review. i'm grateful for these studies that have been conducted. the military justice system might be the most studied justice system until the past decade. and we welcome the scrute neu. that scrutiny benefits everyone who serves in the armed forces. those who are victims, those who are accused of crimes, and those who work within the system and a system that enables commanders to maintain good order and discipline. i'm also grateful for the support of the subcommittee and
the organizations represented by the first panel to ensure we continue to make improvements to our systems and prevention efforts. thank you again, madam chair and ranking member. >> thank you. lieutenant general rockwell. >> distinguished members of the led bymilitary command commanders are responsible for executing our national defense the nation defend and went america's wars. throughout history we have accomplished this because of for simple yet key components. the best training, the best people, andhe best the most important element that binds together the other three, discipline. discipline lies at the heart of command and control. commanders command-and-control government armed with the best training and equipment to execute our national defense missions. discipline is commanders business, since they have the
ultimate responsibility to build, maintain and lead to discipline force necessary to succeed in combat across multiple domains. ,iscipline makes us ready discipline makes us legal. to build this discipline forced to execute these missions, the military justice systems work to strike a careful, constitutional balance between competing equities and the justice process. that balance is best wrote when at every critical junction in the process, a commander is armed with the relevant facts, including victim input, and staff before making a decision on the next critical steps in the process that's in the process. it's best when command operates and executes discipline across the entire continuum of discipline, from convention efforts in setting standards, duties, and command climate on the left side of that continuum to the response of courts-martial on the right side when standards are not met.
an operating everywhere in between those points. this disciplinary continuum embodies the concepts of unity in command, unity of effort, and command-and-control needed to build a ready, legal, and discipline forced to execute the missions the nation asks of us. this committee and congress have been instrumental in our efforts withprove military justice regard to sexual assault. we have focused the system to be more fair and timely, to properly address allegations of misconduct that fosters progressive discipline designed to deter and rehabilitate wrongdoing, to respect the dignity of victims of crime, to protect the rights of the accused and to maintain the trust of airmen and the american people. we have increased our commander training to ensure they are better prepared to exercise all of their authorities before -- allcommand of commanders receive extensive legal training so they fully understand their responsibilities under the code
and the manual. officers receive similar training at all levels of their professional military education, as do all interested members. as a matterntly, process, safeguards have been incorporated and gaps closed to maximize legal advice over every key phase and decision point of a case through investigation, adjudication, and final disposition. the existing authority of the judge advocates general mandate that this critical legal advice be independent. command decisions are informed and evidentiary standards are applied to each stage of the process with the advice of the staff judge advocate along with input from a prosecutor, the victim, and the accused. a critical component to our fight against sexual assault in the military has been our obligation to build trust and confidence in victims. we know that victims must be empowered in every stage of the
process. survivors must believe that the privacy can be protected and that they can regain a sense of control in their lives. sexual assault is a personal violation, and victims must be heard without having the process itself further make them feel victimized. victims must know that they have a say before any decision is made. our special victims counsel have the -- has become a vital teammate in our sexual assault prevention and response arsenal. our work was continued to prevent and respond to criminal behavior within her rights. our next steps i believe should focus on addressing evolving issues of retaliation, collateral misconduct, timeliness, and education on the general deterrent effect generated by the cases tried. while there has been much progress, we as judge advocates remain committed to survivors of sexual assault. we remain committed to airmen and we remain committed to
providing sound, independent legal advice to our commanders and a military justice system that is made of the most ready, lethal, and discipline force in the world. thank you for hearing us today. >> thank you, major general. chair, thank you for the opportunity to testify today . given the title of the hearing, i would like to focus on commanders. the ego's demands that every officer be capable of leading marines in combat, including judge advocates. i have the rare privilege of being selected for command as a commanding officer in the middle east and as a kernel at the dashcam leanne, north carolina. -- at camp, north carolina.
day,e end of the commanders responsible for preparing and leading his or her marines into combat, where the cohesion and discipline of the unit may literally mean the difference between life and death. the mothers and fathers of this nation sent their sons and dollars to become marines, we make a sacred promise that we will train their sons and daughters to the utmost of our ability and protect their welfare and if they must go into harm's way, these young men and mentally, be ready physically, and emotionally to fight and when this nation's wars. as a commander, it's your obligation to be fully invested in the welfare of your marines, to let each one of them, to treat them as a family that they are. you must be confident that marines go as a family. -- can -- in the green core
you're ready to meet the height of obligations and ensure you uphold the promise you made to the mothers and fathers of your marines. i wasommanding officer, responsible for bringing charges in the most serious criminal cases, including sexual assault cases. upon taking command, i trust my staff judge advocate and legal support team to provide the advice required to execute my role. me was my artant to glove opportunity advisor because he kept to keep my finger on the pulse of the command. my equal opportunity advisor provided me in tribal council, keeping me connected to all echelons of the command from developing, administering, , torpreting and d briefing highlight areas of concern, to identify marines who required individualized attention. equal opportunity advisor help me fulfill my obligation to know my marines and look out for
their welfare. my point in highlighting the sax is that although our judge at goods are highly trained and capable professionals, they are not commanders. they do not carry the responsibility and obligation to stay connected to their command, to build a team, to build a family. commanders and commanders alone carry this responsibility. judge advocates provide legal advice. to remove the commander from the military justice system robs the commander of a critical tool for showing discipline is in force, welfare is assured, and justice is served. the comment i has been intensely focused on improving our culture. retaliation is iscceptable, and ostracism antithetical to our culture. to combat constructive behaviors,, issued a green court order on prohibiting activities in condit.
a wideicle criminalizes spectrum of destructive behaviors including sexual harassment, discrimination, retaliation, bullying, offices, online andmisconduct on social media. the comments efforts over the last years have possibly reinforced the culture and more remains to be done. the marine corps is prepared to do it. we never lose sight of that fact that our marines are our greatest asset. we are obligated to ensure each returned to their loved ones in return better for having served. i look forward to answering your questions. >> i'd like to first say how grateful we are for your long service in the military. on one level or no do you each have expressed how you feel that
one sexual assault is too many. but we have 15,000 of them a year. as you know, only 5000 of them report, and of those, maybe 500 go to a court-martial, and of those, only about 250 are convicted. heard the testimony of these three victims. truth.re telling the and yet, they were treated so poorly that the process was e.rse than the rap i would like to have each of you comment on what you heard from each of them. >> yes ma'am, thank you. it is a difficult thing to listen, and i respect the members of the first panel. unfortunate, worse than that, experience that they have
endured. i think that is frankly what motivates all of us. it has always motivated me as a professional, as an officer, as someone in law-enforcement enforcement and the profession of law, to right the wrongs -- >> what would you do differently, having heard their stories? >> it is what we try and do every day, which is to, once reported, provide a level of care to them that provides a restorative process, that gets them back where they need to be. and then holds the right person accountable. it is a robust, well researched, well trained investigative process. from a prosecution and defense standpoint, a very well-educated resource trained bar that includes an extraordinary bar of special victim counsel now as well. what we are trying to do is bring all of those resources to bear on the very cases that they
bring to our attention. saddle, is there anything that you would recommend, based on what you heard from those victims? that as isaway with reflected in the last military survey on investigations and the justice process, discretion really matters. i think we have to be sure that we have people fully trained. the one commander that you mentioned that didn't keep discretion, i could see how hurtful that was in the circumstance. the story about the previous commanding officer, the one that supported her as she called it beyond the call of duty, and as the general indicated, the victims legal counsel that she also indicated was a great support.
>> lieutenant general rockwell. >> madam chair, as attorneys, we are process people. because you are a process person, sometimes you lose him that the. as you sit and listen to the victims as they go through this process, and this process of reporting through investigation, through adjudication, it gets you ultimately to accountability, it's easy to focus on the process and lose the fact that the empathy that you need to have for somebody walking through that process, you ask what we can do better. i think it is an integration with regard to as you walk through that process, we have a lot of people trying to help along the way. and as we look at how we integrate throughout that -- to what victim do, toe -- advocates what investigators do, prosecutors, did fit -- defendants in special victim's
counsel do, there are methodologies to look at to better integrate that. it gives you more speed and gives you into the for the victim in a case, or for that matter, a witness in any case who is actually the one walking through it. >> we're going to have to go and vote and then we will return. do you have a quick comment you would like to make? >> i can't speak as to why this happened to the survivors. >> based on what you heard, i want to know if you have leaned anything from it that you would take back and want to do differently. >> first of all, as i stated in my opening statement, they are accountable for what happened. >> what has happened to that commander who was conflicted, who continues to handle the case? and now we have a west point grad who we invested a lot of money and who is no longer serving.
can't speak to that specific case, but what i can say is there are systems in place to deal with these things. ,e have a very robust practice i'm not the ig that i work very closely with him, for retaliation. handle aig can reprisal or retaliation case. that is one step. we professionalize our victim advocates, our victim whiston -- witness assistant program to be more supportive to victims along the way in the process. >> thank you. we are going to return.
washington journal live every day with news and policy issues that impact you, coming up thursday morning, north carolina democratic congressman david price will be with us to talk about his concerns over a lack of affordable housing, and then kentucky republican congressman andy burns talks about democratic proposals for a financial services tax. be sure to watch sea pen washington journal live at 7:00 eastern thursday morning, join the discussion. coming up tonight on c- span 3, energy secretary rick perry testifies on the fiscal year 2020 budget for his department. then a discussion on u.s. immigration policy. later, military officials testify on prosecuting military sex assaults. energy secretaryri
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