W.H. holds meeting on sexual assault in military
May 9th, 2013
09:14 AM ET
11 months ago

W.H. holds meeting on sexual assault in military

Washington (CNN) – About a dozen members of Congress were invited to meet at the White House Thursday with senior adviser Valerie Jarrett and the first lady's chief of staff Tina Tchen to address the issue of sexual assault in the military, a senior administration official said.

The official did not provide names of the lawmakers invited to the bicameral bipartisan meeting, but CNN confirmed three of the guests were Sen. Amy Klobuchar, D-Minnesota, Sen. Kelly Ayotte, R-New Hampshire, and Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-New York.

Gillibrand said the meeting was "very important and productive meeting" were legislative ideas were discussed.

"I strongly believe that to change the paradigm of chronic non-reporting it is essential to move decision making away from the chain of command to trained legal prosecutors so that victims do not have to report to their bosses," she said in a statement. "It was clear to me the White House is dedicated to taking action that will reform the system to better protect our brave men and women."

Klobuchar said the country has made "some progress" in new policies on sexual assault, but "the recent report underscores the critical need for continued action to prevent this crime and this meeting is one positive step forward for advancing solutions." She recently introduced a bill to crack down on sexual assault in the military.

Ayotte, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, also introduced legislation this week with Sen. Patty Murray, D-Washington, to combat sexual assault.

“We must strengthen existing laws and policies so that perpetrators face justice and victims can come forward without fear of retribution and with confidence that they will receive the support, care, and justice they deserve," she said in a statement.

The number of service members anonymously reporting sexual assault grew by more than 30% in the past two years, according to a Pentagon report released Tuesday.

The Defense Department estimated that more than 26,000 troops experienced an episode of "unwanted sexual contact," a huge jump from the 19,300 figure in the 2010 report.

Meanwhile, Air Force officials faced questions this week about the branch chief for the service's program designed to prevent sexual assault, who was arrested and charged with sexual battery over the weekend.

President Obama on Tuesday said he had "no tolerance" for sexual assault in the military and vowed to go at the problem "hard."

"We have to do everything we can to root this out," the president said during a joint press conference with South Korea's new president.

"I don’t want just more speeches or awareness programs or training but, ultimately, folks look the other way. If we find out somebody is engaging in this stuff, they've got to be held accountable - prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged," he added. "Period. It's not acceptable."

The official said the meeting is following up on the president's pledge as a "first step."

– CNN's Steve Almasy and Ashley Fantz contributed to this report.

soundoff (17 Responses)
  1. just askin

    can we get a racial breakdown on the perpetrators and their victims please? everything else seems to be broken down this way and when that info is missing it usually means one thing, they are concealing black on white violence.

    May 9, 2013 09:35 am at 9:35 am |
  2. Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes

    There's going to be a lot of court martials because this behavior has been going on forever in the military. My XO was court martialled & dishonorably discharged for sexual harassment of an enlisted soldier. This kind of stuff goes on in the shadows and needs to brought out into the light. The investigators of these crimes should either part of the C.I.D. or a civilian. It should NOT be done by an officer within that unit or brigade for that matter.

    May 9, 2013 09:41 am at 9:41 am |
  3. The Real Tom Paine

    -just askin

    can we get a racial breakdown on the perpetrators and their victims please? everything else seems to be broken down this way and when that info is missing it usually means one thing, they are concealing black on white violence.
    *******************************
    Diverting attention, again?

    May 9, 2013 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  4. just sayin

    Dutch/Bad Newz, VA -aka- Take Back The House -aka- No Redemption Votes
    There's going to be a lot of court martials because this behavior has been going on forever in the military
    -–

    total lie. it started happening when women were allowed into the military. get your facts straight and stop lying.

    May 9, 2013 09:59 am at 9:59 am |
  5. Tracy

    who cares!

    May 9, 2013 10:04 am at 10:04 am |
  6. Lynda/Minnesota

    "The investigators of these crimes should either part of the C.I.D. or a civilian. It should NOT be done by an officer within that unit or brigade for that matter."

    Absolutely agree, Dutch.

    May 9, 2013 10:07 am at 10:07 am |
  7. Chris

    Anything to distract from Benghazi . . . .

    May 9, 2013 10:11 am at 10:11 am |
  8. Manuel J.

    @ just sayin... Did you EVER serve?

    May 9, 2013 10:13 am at 10:13 am |
  9. just askin

    The Real Tom Paine
    -just askin
    can we get a racial breakdown on the perpetrators and their victims please? everything else seems to be broken down this way and when that info is missing it usually means one thing, they are concealing black on white violence.
    *******************************
    Diverting attention, again?
    ----
    afraid of questions and the facts again?
    thanks for proving my point.

    May 9, 2013 10:17 am at 10:17 am |
  10. The Real Tom Paine

    -Manuel J.

    @ just sayin... Did you EVER serve?
    ********************
    Doubtful that he/she/it ever served, but on the off chance he/she/it did serve, what rank did just sayin retire with? Probably the only 30 year E-2 in history.

    May 9, 2013 10:18 am at 10:18 am |
  11. just askin

    Manuel J.
    @ just sayin... Did you EVER serve?
    --
    totally irrelevant to a discussion of rape. the discussion is about rape, not serving in the military. why are all you lefties so afraid of a question concerning the facts of all these rapes? are you afraid it will show that most of them are committed by blacks against whites? there needs to be some real reporting on this where all the facts are presented. but as we have sen with benghazi, lefties and obama koolaide drinkers aren't interested in facts.

    May 9, 2013 10:21 am at 10:21 am |
  12. Alfred E Newman

    Three americans die in libya and the president goes to Las Vegas. Some broads in the military get groped and he calls a meeting.

    May 9, 2013 10:24 am at 10:24 am |
  13. Lynda/Minnesota

    @ just sayin... Did you EVER serve?

    Judging by the maturity level of this person's overall comments ... most likely not.

    May 9, 2013 10:26 am at 10:26 am |
  14. BarryG

    Is the drastic increase in better reporting, or something we have done in the last several years on who we are recruiting? My guess is with the conflicts we are in, Iraq, Afganistan, etc., we are not getting the "cream" but maybe the bottom sludge in our military.

    May 9, 2013 10:27 am at 10:27 am |
  15. Spork

    As a young woman who is about to be commissioned as an officer in the Navy – this terrifies me. To know that men and women join the military to serve their country, to get an education, to better their situation, and thousands of them are subjected to sexual harassment (or worse).

    May 9, 2013 10:42 am at 10:42 am |
  16. BB

    This guy worries about everything except the economy!

    May 9, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |
  17. lex

    Alfred E. Newman, this is not "some broads in the military" getting groped. It is rape and other forms of sexual assault. And it's not just women who have been assaulted. Men have been assaulted, too. It needs to stop.

    May 9, 2013 10:43 am at 10:43 am |