Rep. Elise Stefanik (R-Willsboro) says she is in full support of the way the military is handling sexual abuse cases. Her comments in support of the military justice system are in opposition to Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand’s (D-NY) accusations that the Pentagon refuses to acknowledge the scope of the crisis.
Gillibrand recently released a report that found in over 100 cases examined, military spouses and civilians living near bases made up a majority of people who reported sexual assault. The Pentagon isn’t required to document cases by civilians. Gillibrand says by ignoring these numbers, the military isn't acknowledging how large the issue of sexual assault in the military really is.
The Defense Department released its own survey results May 1 showing sexual assaults have dropped in the past two years. Stefanik said she believes the military is doing a good job.
“Reporting is up. That’s a good thing. We want to make sure our service men and women feel comfortable to come forward to report sexual assault,” Stefanik said.
Stefanik went on to say the Army and Fort Drum’s sexual assault prevention programs are now a model for local institutions, like universities.
“One of the administrators who is focused on combating sexual assault on the college campus said their best resource is actually the Army and partnering with Fort Drum and making sure they had the tools and the understanding to tackle sexual assault,” said Stefanik.
Gillibrand is pushing to reform the military justice system by requesting criminal prosecutors outside the military to handle sexual assault cases, but Stefanik disagrees. She says decisions should stay within the military’s chain of command.