Dec. 10 (UPI) -- The U.S. Supreme Court issued a ruling Thursday that upheld the rape convictions of three male Air Force members, reversing a ruling from the military's top court.
In an 8-0 decision on U.S. v. Briggs, the Supreme Court ruled that a five-year statute of limitations does not apply to military rape prosecutions and convictions from between the years of 1986 and 2006.
In 2014, Lt. Col. Michael Briggs was sentenced for the 2005 rape of a female service member, but in 2018, the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces, or CAAF, ruled that a five-year statute of limitations applied to military rape prosecutions.
Briggs' conviction was subsequently dismissed, along with those of two other airmen, Lt. Col. Humphrey Daniels, convicted in a 1998 rape of a civilian, and Master Sgt. Collins, convicted of a 2000 rape of another service member.
Before 1996, the Uniform Code of Military Justice considered rape a capital offense and had no time limit for prosecuting it.
The CAAF established the five-year limit in 1998 and kept it in place until 2006 when Congress moved to abolish it.
"Among other things, the government argues that a rape committed by a service member may cause special damage by critically undermining unit cohesion and discipline and that, in some circumstances, the crime may have serious international implications. That also appears to have been the view of Congress and the executive," Justice Samuel Alito wrote.