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Begich to Hagel: “Get Serious”About Reducing Sexual Assaults in the Military

Outraged by recent reports of rampant sexual assault in the military including in Alaska, U.S. Sen. Mark Begich is calling on Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to get serious about reducing acts of violence in the military and to review the military justice system’s implementation of minimum mandatory jail time. Begich also recently cosponsored two new bills designed to crack down on sexual assault in the military.

Begich is responding to reports of increasing sexual assault crimes in the military and the alarming case of a rapist who was court-martialed and convicted for his crime in Alaska but failed to receive any jail time. “The rapist's punishment doesn't even begin to fit his crime,” said Begich.  “This lack of justice is egregious and unacceptable and it requires your personal attention and immediate action.  Alaskans are outraged.  I am outraged.”

Begich is a strong supporter of legislation to prevent sexual assault and to help victims of sexual assault—especially in the military.  Begich recently co-sponsored S. 294, The Ruth Moore Act of 2013, which would make disability benefits for women veterans available if they are suffering from PTSD or depression following a military related sexual assault. Begich is also a co-sponsor of the Defense STRONG Act, which would strengthen protections for military assault victims to ensure crimes are reported without fear of retribution.

In the letter he sent to Sec. Hagel today, Begich writes:

“In addition to your personal attention to the sentencing of Nicholas Howard, I urge you to review the implementation of minimum mandatory jail time for those convicted of sexual assault under the military justice system.  Not only would mandatory jail time provide some small relief for victims, it may force offenders to think twice before committing these crimes.”

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