The ACLU is cracking-down on the government’s failure to provide them with complete information regarding sexual assault statistics in the military.
To support their demands, assertions, theories, and postulates, they provide some damning statistics. Let’s look at a few.
About 80 percent of unwanted or threatening sexual acts are not reported, according to the lawsuit. Victims who report abuse to their superiors often face social isolation, retribution and counteraccusations, the lawsuit says.
Hmmm, where to begin? So, 80% are not reported. If they are not reported, how do we know they exist? Further, how can we confirm that there was actually an unwanted or threatening sexual act? What is the confirmation process for this?
Victims often face counteraccusations. Would this include: “He/she is lying! I didn’t do what they said! They are just scared because their spouse discovered that we screwed.” Would that qualify as a counteraccusation? Do we expect the accused person to say: “Well, I have some defenses to this allegation, but I don’t want to be accused of making counteraccusations. So, can I just go to jail quietly today?”
How ’bout we just preclude all defenses? If you are accused, you’re done. That sounds like something the ACLU would support. No? OK, I guess they, too, are precluded from having their cake and eating it too.
What are they asking for?
The groups that filed suit want information on the number of acquittals, convictions and sentences, the number of disability claims related to sexual trauma that were accepted and rejected, and the number of sexual harassment complaints. The records are needed to determine the extent of the problem and what has been done to address it, the groups say.
OK, they want to determine the extent of the problem–by looking at acquittals? So, is this relevant because acquittals are bad? Is an acquittal a sign that sexual assaults are not taken seriously? Or, is it a sign that a jury (or judge) considered all relevant evidence and determined that a crime did not occur? How is that bad? It’s not. We cannot impose a moratorium on acquittals, that thing called the constitution forbids it.
Turn the focus to disability claims. The assumption with all disability claims is that a qualified medical provider must evaluate a patient claiming disability and give an assessment as to whether they suffer from a disabling condition, whether that condition precludes their abilities, and assigning an appropriate value to the claim. Are we going to mandate their conclusions? If so, why not just cut-out the provider altogether and award claims automatically upon application?
Back to statistics:
The government prosecutes 8 percent of military sex offenders, while 40 percent of civilian sex offenders are prosecuted, according to the lawsuit.
Wow, I didn’t know that we had so many sex offenders in the military. The term “sex offender” is applied to an individual convicted of sex-crimes. Does the military admit a large number of folks convicted of sex crimes? And, even if they do, why must they be prosecuted? What if they didn’t commit another crime?
OK, that was being overly-snarky. I admit. Likely, it was a misuse of the term by the individual writing the article for the Associated Press. Let’s move on.
Where do we get the 8% vs. 40% figures? Do they account for the large number of mandatory reporters in the military? Are they including all declined prosecutions in civilian courts? Do all civilian prosecutors keep records of declined prosecutions? What jurisdictions are polled to get this statistic?
You see, no two alleged crimes are equal, and they must all be evaluated on their own unique and specific facts. Gathering general statistics hardly tells the complete story.
I ask so many questions because of my own experiences. As a Trial Counsel (Military Prosecutor), I handled a number of allegations of rape/sexual assault. Many of them were factually deficient, and the facts discovered in the investigation made it impossible to win at a court-martial. Yet, I was told (ordered) that these allegations must be charged. I was told (ordered) that the court-martial process would be used to the fullest extent. I couldn’t help but feel that I was punishing an innocent man/woman for the sake of public relations and the Army’s image.
As a Senior Defense Counsel, I saw the implementation of new sexual assault laws (UCMJ Article 120), tougher punishments, and easier-to-prove elements for the various crimes. Plus, I was interviewed by a commission studying ways that the Army could get tougher on sexual assaults.
This commission hired some incredibly bright and connected people. This included the smartest attorney I’ve every met, Colonel (Retired) Lisa Schenck. She taught the first law class I ever took, an overview of military and constitutional law at West Point. I got a C.
Dr. Schenck and a retired Brigadier General sat in my office for an hour, peppering me with questions about sexual assault allegations, prosecutorial failures, and defense challenges. Members of the commission did this at every significant Army installation.
After a few months, the commission released its findings, and the Army moved quickly to implement them. They included:
- Additional prosecutorial manpower in the form of Special Victims Prosecutors.
- Additional investigative manpower in the form of Special Victims Investigators.
- More money funneled-to victim advocacy, expert witnesses, and other prosecutorial resources.
Even with all of the money, time, and resources given to stacking the odds more in the government’s favor, they still face an amazing amount of criticism.
All I know is that the defense bar must rapidly develop to keep-pace with the changes and account for overwhelming government resources. As if the endless pot they had before wasn’t enough.
The way I see it, 100% of the cases handled by the government can be criticized by the ACLU, and, of those, 68% are given unfair and disparate treatment. Meanwhile, 34% are decidedly unsavory with certain advocacy groups, and 43% are defended by counsel wearing black shoes. Also remember that 63% of all statistics are completely fabricated by the person using them.
A matter of perspective an interpretation? You bet.
Here’s the statistic I want, and I only want one. How many of these allegations of sexual assault are complete BS?