Military commanders to keep authority over sex assault prosecutions

Posted at 3:45 PM, Aug 12, 2013
and last updated 2013-08-12 18:09:55-04

WASHINGTON (CNN) — Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is expected to announce new rules designed to ensure senior commanders continue to play a role in overseeing military sex assault prosecutions while giving victims a potentially greater role in how cases are resolved, according to a Pentagon official.

The announcement, which could come as soon as Wednesday, is likely to include a decision that the most senior generals or admirals in a command be automatically notified of a sexual assault charge, according to the official.

The decision will likely displease some members of Congress, including certain women on the Senate Armed Services committee who want authority for prosecuting sex assault to be removed from the chain of command.

Senior military leaders argue that removing such authority would harm a commander’s ability to lead effectively.

The decision by the Pentagon comes amid mounting concern this year about sex abuse reports in the armed forces.

Recent figures show an increased rate of reported assaults. Recent high-profile cases have involved officers in the Air Force and the Army and midshipmen at the U.S. Naval Academy.

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