Boxer, Graham introduce plan to protect military victims of rape

Nov. 6, 2013 at 6:47 PM
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WASHINGTON, Nov. 6 (UPI) -- Victims of sexual assault in the U.S. military should be spared from testifying at preliminary hearings, a bipartisan group in the Senate says.

Sens. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., and Lindsey Graham, R-S.C., introduced an amendment Tuesday that would change the procedure for Article 32 hearings, Politico reported. Under their plan, victims would be able to provide sworn statements.

"The current system is a disaster," Boxer said. "The reason it's a disaster is there's no protection for the victim in that room at all."

Supporters of the change cite the recent case of three midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy who were accused of sexual assault by a woman attending the academy. The victim, they say, was put through hours of cross-examination on topics like her techniques for oral sex and the way she was dressed the night of the alleged rape.

The hearing ended with two of the midshipmen facing court-martial.

"Right now there's no restrictions," Boxer said. "You can go on a fishing expedition and you can do whatever you want and there's no boundaries."

The plan would also require transcripts to of Article 32 hearings to victims' lawyers and limit lawyers' questioning to topics directly involving the charges. It is backed by a large group of senators of both parties.

Boxer and Graham plan to offer their proposal as an amendment to the Defense authorization bill.

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