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Sexual assaults in the military are on the rise. This bill would authorize Congress to intervene
WASHINGTON — Congress could intervene in legal cases on behalf of military members who have been sexually assaulted under a new bill co-sponsored by a bipartisan group of lawmakers led by Rep. Brian Mast.
The Florida Republican in late April introduced "Harmony's Law," named after his constituent Harmony Allen, who was raped by an instructor just three months after joining in the U.S. Air Force in 2000.
The bill takes steps to remedy the impact of a U.S. military appeals court ruling last year that could overturn sexual assaults occurring before 2006 and prosecuted after a new five-year statute of limitations expired, lawmakers say.
But the bill proposed by Mast does not eliminate the statute of limitations for sexual assault in the military.
Instead the bill reads: "It is the sense of Congress that the passage of time should not bar the prosecution of rape or sexual assault under the Uniform Code of Military Justice."
The bill simply authorizes the Office of General Counsel of the House of Representatives to file an amicus brief in any case in which U.S. v. Mangahas is invoked in a defendant's appeal.
The ruling in U.S. v. Mangahas reversed a legal precedent, which held that sexual assault in the military has no statute of limitations. The ruling came in February 2018, just as the #MeToo movement was encouraging more women to report sexual assaults they may have hesitated to report for years for fear of retaliation.
Allen's assailant was found guilty in 2017 and sentenced to more than 16 years in prison. That sentence was overturned under the new ruling, Treasure Coast Newspapers reported.
The bill comes as members of the military have reported a spike in sexual assaults, especially young women, according to a confidential survey released by the Pentagon in February 2019.
More than six percent of active duty women say they have experienced a sexual assault in the past year — the highest rate since 2006, when the Pentagon first instituted policies to encourage greater reporting.
Women from the ages of 17 to 24 were especially vulnerable. And only a third of respondents who experienced sexual assault reported it, the survey indicated.
Allen said she believes the spike is related to the new five-year statute of limitations in some sexual assault cases in an interview with CNN.
"The stats are back up. The conviction rate is back down. And I'm like, yeah, I wonder why," Allen said.
Mast served in the Army for a decade, and briefly volunteered with the Israeli Defense Force.
Other cosponsors of the legislation include both Democrats and Republicans: Reps. Haley Stevens of Michigan, Bill Posey of Florida, Gus Bilirakis of Florida, Matt Gaetz of Florida, Darren Soto of Florida, Rep. Gil Cisneros of California, Rep. Annie Kuster of New Hampshire, Rep. Kathy Castor of Florida, Rep. Mario Diaz-Balart of Florida, and Rep. Val Demings of Florida.
©2019 CQ-Roll Call, Inc., All Rights Reserved. Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.
SEE ALSO: 'Continuum Of Harm': The Military Has Been Fighting Sexual Assault In Its Ranks For Decades, But Women Say It's Still Happening
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STOCKTON — Diane Wright opened the door of an apartment at The Oaks at Inglewood, the assisted care facility in Stockton where she is the executive director. Inside, three people busily went through postal trays crammed with envelopes near a table heaped with handmade gifts, military memorabilia, blankets, quilts, candy and the like.
Operation Valentine has generated a remarkable outpouring of support from around the world for retired United States Marine, Maj. Bill White. Earlier this month, a resident at The Oaks, Tony Walker, posted a request on social media to send Valentine's Day cards to the 104-year-old World War II veteran and recipient of the Purple Heart.
Walker believed Maj. White would enjoy adding the cards to his collection of memorabilia. The response has been greater than anyone ever thought possible.
Editor's Note: This article originally appeared on Radio Free Europe/Radio Free Liberty.
A spokesman for the Taliban has told a Pakistani newspaper that the militant group is hoping to reach an Afghan peace deal with U.S negotiators by the end of January.
The comments by Suhail Shaheen on January 18 to the Dawn newspaper come after negotiators from the Taliban and the United States met for two days of talks in Qatar.
The three Americans killed in a C-130 air tanker crash while fighting Australian bushfires on Thursday were all identified as military veterans, according to a statement released by their employer, Coulson Aviation.
The oldest of the three fallen veterans was Ian H. McBeth, a 44-year-old pilot who served with the Wyoming Air National Guard and was an active member of the Montana Air National Guard. McBeth "spent his entire career flying C-130s and was a qualified Instructor and Evaluator pilot," said Coulson Aviation. He's survived by his wife Bowdie and three children Abigail, Calvin and Ella.
MIAMI/JERUSALEM (Reuters) - U.S. President Donald Trump said on Thursday he will release details of his long-delayed peace plan for the Middle East before Israeli Prime Minister Benjamin Netanyahu and his election rival Benny Gantz visit the White House next week.
The political aspects of the peace initiative have been closely guarded. Only the economic proposals have been unveiled.
The Pentagon moved a total of $35 trillion among its various budget accounts in 2019, Tony Capaccio of Bloomberg first reported.
That does not mean that the Defense Department spent, lost, or could not account for $35 trillion, said Bryan Clark, a senior fellow with the Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments think tank in Washington, D.C.
"It means money that DoD moved from one part of the budget to another," Clark explained to Task & Purpose. "So, like in your household budget: It would be like moving money from checking, to savings, to your 401K, to your credit card, and then back."