Tonawanda News


August 14, 2013

DUVALL: Military sex assault reporting must change


Tonawanda News — The only way to fix it is create an independent investigative arm in which victims can have confidence they’ll be treated fairly.

McCaskill argues in favor of keeping the reporting inside the chain of command for several entirely practical reasons. First, she argues, the bureaucracy inherent in creating a system outside the military chain of command endangers victims. Those lawyers, sometimes half a world away, can’t protect a victim as ably as a commander who’s on the ground.

And requiring victims to circumvent commanders in reporting instances of sexual abuse absolves commanders of their inherent responsibility to prevent such crimes in the first place. Better, McCaskill argues, to force commanders to run a tighter ship and put the impetus on military brass to crack down on commanders who aren’t living up to a new, much more rigorous standard in preventing sexual assault.

From where I’m sitting, I have to side with Gillibrand — this is a problem that seems larger than the status quo can overcome. If 33,000 military personnel can fall victim to sexual assault clearly it’s a situation clearly out of control.

Furthermore, military leaders have claimed breaking the essential chain of command will lead to chaos. As we pointed out in an editorial last month, what chain of command is worth preserving — and what precisely is it controlling — if it leads to this culture of lawlessness? 

Continuing to grant unit commanders the ability to scuttle reported sexual assaults and create a culture of fear and shame for victims to discourage them from coming forward in the first place sends a message that things don’t really have to change.

There are sensible procedures that can be put in place that can protect victims from reprisals while still pursuing legal rights in an outside prosecutorial system. Outside prosecutors should be empowered to act immediately on behalf of a victim in much the same way police can for incidents of domestic abuse in civilian life, instituting a military equivalent of a restraining order while an allegation is investigated that commanding officers would be tasked with enforcing. 

Text Only
  • Tucker, Barbara.jpg TUCKER: Oh, the joys of Sound Off Never thought the words "Thank goodness for Sound Off" would ever be printed here.

    July 26, 2014 1 Photo

  • adamczyk, ed.jpg ADAMCZYK: And now for something completely different... Last weekend I attended a local movie theater (a plushy, posh experience; they design these places now to get you out of your living room and away from your home electronics) to watch the sun set on the British Empire.

    July 25, 2014 1 Photo

  • OUR VIEW: Arson suspect never deserved bail Two of the 11 fires reported on Fifth Avenue could have been prevented with some jurisprudence in evaluating whether the suspect, Michelle Johnston, deserved to be offered bail. Given the obvious nature of a repeat offender who was charged with nine felony arson counts, bail never should have been offered in this case.

    July 25, 2014

  • wallace, amy.jpg WALLACE: Too much information? Is there such a thing as TMI or too much information anymore? Some might say yes.

    July 24, 2014 1 Photo

  • duvall, eric.jpg DUVALL: On reading and the lack thereof It was surprising to me a few weeks ago when a friend asked a group of us to estimate how many books we have each read over the last five years. The English teacher said 200 and he far and away led the pack. I was probably the median and my number was 20-25.

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • confer, bob.jpg CONFER: A Con-Con would be a con game

    July 23, 2014 1 Photo

  • duvall, eric.jpg DUVALL: Conflict in Ukraine now a concern of global proportions It seems increasingly clear Ukrainian separatists, with the help from the Russian military, are responsible for the tragedy. They, of course, have denied it. They've also denied access to the crash site to international investigators seeking to recover the dead and determine what happened. That's not something the innocent party does.

    July 20, 2014 1 Photo

  • ADAMCZYK: Personal development, rendered in steel Accepting the premise that everyone needs to fill the same amount of time every day (24 hours, every day), some people use theirs rebuilding things, tangible things, and thus fulfill a few intangible goals.

    July 18, 2014

  • WALLACE: Festival season is underway Summer is the season of fairs and festivals. From Canal Fest in the Tonawandas to the Allentown Art Festival and Italian Heritage Festival in Buffalo to the Erie County Fair in Hamburg, the Western New York area has no shortage of things to do with the family over the summer.

    July 17, 2014

  • duvall, eric.jpg DUVALL: King George's abdication leaves many questions I've covered Niagara County politics for 10 years and it's been a fascinating -- and often infuriating -- experience. With the news the man known with equal parts respect and cynicism as "King George" is walking away it's about to get more interesting.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo