President Joe Biden announced his support for the U.S. military’s decision to change the way it handles sexual assault cases.
“I strongly support Secretary Austin’s announcement that he is accepting the core recommendations put forward by the Independent Review Commission on Military Sexual Assault (IRC), including removing the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault from the chain of command and creating highly specialized units to handle these cases and related crimes,” Biden said in a statement.
Austin said in June he supports making changes, saying, “I know enough at this point to say that I fully support removing the prosecution of sexual assaults and related crimes from the military chain of command.”
Biden also acknowledged in his statement “sexual assault in the military is doubly damaging because it also shreds the unity and cohesion that is essential to the functioning of the U.S. military and to our national defense.”
Read his statement below:
Biden statement supporting results of the commission on military sexual assault, including removing the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault from the chain of command and creating highly specialized units to handle these cases. pic.twitter.com/o84nHXhVQU
— Patsy Widakuswara (@pwidakuswara) July 2, 2021
The president called for “concrete actions that fundamentally change the way we handle military sexual assault and that make it clear that these crimes will not be minimized or dismissed.”
He continued, “We will also prioritize effective prevention strategies; promote safe, healthy, and respectful climates; and improve services to address the trauma that sexual assault victims experience and to facilitate their healing and recovery.”
Biden expressed his appreciation for those who have worked on solving the issue, including Sens. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-N.Y.) and Joni Ernst (R-Iowa), as well as Reps. Jackie Speier (D-Calif.) and Markwayne Mullin (R-Okla.).
He explained the changes “will be among the most significant reforms to our military undertaken in recent history, and I’m committed to delivering results.”
The Washington Post notes officials said it might not be until 2023 before the changes are implemented.
The Pentagon said in May there was a 1% increase in sexual assaults reported in the military in 2020, as the Post reports.
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