Sailors, Marines and Midshipmen who report sexual assault will no longer be punished for “minor collateral misconduct,” according to a new Department of the Navy policy implemented June 29.
Sailors and Marines who unrestrictedly report their assault through the Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response or the Family Advocacy Program will not be penalized for underage drinking at the time. or near the time of the alleged assault; were involved in an unprofessional relationship with the accused abuser; or were violating other orders, such as curfews, at the time of the alleged assault.
“Choosing to report a sexual assault is already a major decision for a survivor,” Secretary of the Navy Carlos Del Toro said in a statement. “This is a first step to accessing the services they need and the justice they deserve. Removing this barrier empowers victims and survivors – they shouldn’t have to choose to get involved by reporting a crime against them.
The new policy directs commanders to work with staff judge advocates to determine if the misconduct was minor. Even then, commanders may refer victims to drug treatment or take other non-disciplinary action in response.
“Collateral misconduct by the victim of a sexual assault is one of the most significant barriers to reporting due to the victim’s fear of punishment,” said Andrea Goldstein, Deputy Director of the Department of the Navy. for Force Resilience, in a Navy press release. “We are committed to breaking down barriers to reporting, restoring the trust of victims and improving care for victims.
The policy also requires the collection of data so ministry officials can understand how often these protections are used and under what circumstances.
The change is one of several recent updates the Navy has implemented to its sexual harassment and assault policy. In April, the service announced it was stripping Navy and Marine Corps commanders of the authority to investigate allegations of sexual harassment within their own units.
The order directs commanders, commanding officers and responsible officers who receive complaints of sexual harassment to escalate the complaint to the “next higher commander in the chain of command” within 72 hours so that an investigating officer can be appointed to launch an investigation into the case.
Additionally, the Biden administration approved an executive order in January 2022 that includes sexual harassment in the Uniform Code of Military Justice under Section 134. Whereas sexual harassment could previously be prosecuted under Section 92 of the UCMJ as a breach of duty or under Section 133 as conduct. unseemly, the executive order specifically lists sexual harassment as an offense under section 134, “the general section”.