WASHINGTON (NNS) — The Navy announced June 28 that only officers at the O-6 (captain) level and above will have the authority to make initial disposition decisions on the most serious sexual assault cases.
This announcement follows a statement from Secretary of Defense, Leon Panetta, directing the services to elevate reported offenses including rape, sexual assault, forcible sodomy, and attempts to commit those offenses to a “Special Court Martial Convening Authority” at the O-6 or above pay-grade.
The Navy’s implementation of the Department of Defense initiative was outlined in NAVADMIN 195/12, released June 28. This message defined the sexual assault initial disposition authority (SA-IDA) as officers O-6 or above.
Once a sexual assault is reported to a command with a military member named as the alleged perpetrator, Naval Criminal Investigative Service is alerted to begin an investigation. If the commander is not an SA-IDA, the case will be forwarded to the SA-IDA for an initial disposition decision. The SA-IDA must consult with a judge advocate and, if practicable, an NCIS agent before making any determination on a case. The SA-IDA may then take any action in accordance with the established Rules for Court-Martial, to include pursuing criminal charges, taking administrative or non-judicial action, or taking no action against the alleged perpetrator. Additionally, the SA-IDA decision must be documented.
The NAVADMIN also directed commanders to understand the recent changes made to Article 120 of the Uniform Code of Military Justice, which addresses the criminal elements of rape, sexual assault, aggravated sexual contact, and abusive sexual contact. To assist commanders, members of the Navy Judge Advocate General’s Corps will provide training in conjunction with mobile training teams under the oversight of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Task Force. Every commanding officer, staff judge advocate, victim advocate, and sexual assault response coordinator is required to attend a session of this training.
Sexual assault prevention is an important element of the readiness area of the 21st Century Sailor and Marine initiative, which consolidates a set of objectives and policies, new and existing, to maximize Sailor and Marine personal readiness, build resiliency and hone the most combat-effective force in the history of the Department of the Navy (DoN). DoN is working aggressively to prevent sexual assaults, to support sexual assault victims, and to hold offenders accountable.
- Navy to Combat Sexual Assault With New Training Video – Bloomberg (bloomberg.com)
- Report: Camp Lejeune has most sexual assaults of any Marine instillation worldwide (rawstory.com)
- Navy attempts culture change on sexual assaults (cnsnews.com)
- Courts-martial set in Air Force sex scandal (cbsnews.com)