Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez, Representing California’s 46th Congressional District
RELEASE, FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: December 4, 2014
MEDIA CONTACT: Barb Solish, 202-226-8373, Barb.Solish@mail.house.gov
REP. SANCHEZ RESPONDS TO MILITARY SEXUAL ASSAULT REPORT
Assaults Down and Reporting Up, But One Assault is One Too Many
WASHINGTON – Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez (CA-46), founder and co-chair of the Women in the Military Caucus and senior member of the House Armed Services Committee, today released the following statement in response to the new Pentagon report on military sexual assaults. The report shows that the number of service members reporting unwanted contact and assault increased over the past fiscal year and that one in every four victims filed a report this year compared to 2012, when only about one in every ten military victims came forward. The overall estimated number of assaults is about 19,000, which is down from 26,000 last year.
“Today’s report shows slight improvement in the number and reporting of unwanted sexual contact and assaults, but one assault is still one too many and our work has just begun,” said Rep. Sanchez. “Change does not happen overnight, but the sweeping reforms in last year’s defense bill – including parts of my Track it to Prevent It Act – are moving the needle.
“I am happy to see the report focuses on commander accountability, which is essential to long-term culture change. The Pentagon will now conduct climate assessments similar to those proposed by my original Track it to Prevent It Act that were removed during the conference process. I continue to believe military commanders must be held accountable for the climate and safety of their units. It is impossible to hold someone accountable for fixing a problem when you strip them of their responsibilities and ability to do so.
“We must continue to push the Pentagon to change the current culture of our military where assault is expected and victims are silenced.”
As co-founder of the Women in the Military Caucus, Rep. Sanchez has been part of the long fight to address this issue. In 2006, she led the effort to reform the Uniform Code of Military Justice to include a meaningful sexual assault statute and in 2009 she requested a Sexual Assault Database. Rep. Sanchez’s Track it to Prevent it Act, which passed last year, holds commanders accountable for their unit’s climate and strengthens their ability to prevent and respond to sexual assaults. It requires that sexual harassment complaints be permanently noted on a service member’s record and that any new commander review that history. This prevents a perpetrator from running away from accusations and empowers commanders to prevent assault. The Act will also evaluate the efficacy of the office that currently handles harassment issues.
Congresswoman Loretta Sanchez is proud to represent California’s 46th Congressional District, which includes the cities of Anaheim, Santa Ana, and parts of the cities of Garden Grove and Orange in Orange County. She serves as Ranking Member of the House Armed Services Subcommittee on Tactical Air and Land Forces and the second ranked Democrat on the Committee on Homeland Security. Rep. Sanchez is also a member of the fiscally conservative Blue Dog Coalition and sits on the bipartisan, bicameral Joint Economic Committee.