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Missouri senator's military sex assault bill passes muster

Missouri Sen. Claire McCaskill emerged victorious in her face-off with her Democratic New York counterpart, Sen, Kirsten Gillibrand, as the Senate recently blocked Gillibrand's bill, which would have prevented the U. S. military brass from handing sexual assault cases.

McCaskill spoke out, saying, "It's very hard for me to get my arms around the notion that people are saying that somehow I'm not on the side of the victims." The former sex-crimes prosecutor was referencing an ad in the St. Louis Dispatch last summer that questioned whether McCaskill's loyalties ran to the victim or the alleged perpetrators.

McCaskill's measure bans those accused of sexual assault from claiming to otherwise be a "good soldier," and prevents them from using past examples of exemplary conduct in their defense. Her version also will allow the victims of sexual assault to voice their preference as to whether the cases are heard in the civil justice system or in the military's.

Both Democratic senators were commended by White House officials for their efforts to direct the spotlight on sexual assaults in the military. Programs have been implemented to prevent and respond to the matters in a more effective manner, a White House official stated.

The focus of lawmakers across the nation has increasingly been on mounting concerns about unwelcome sexual behavior in all branches of the military. According to a 2013 survey done by the Pentagon, incidents of sexual assault jumped from 19,000 in 2010 to 26,000 in just two years. These anonymously reported statistics were significantly higher than the 3,374 cases officially reported in 2012.

Our servicewomen and men put their lives on the line for our country and certainly do not deserve to be subjected to any form of sexual harassment or assault.

Likewise, sexual harassment in civilian workplaces construes hostile working environments for those subjected to these behaviors. Speaking with a Missouri employment lawyer in such cases is the first step to righting the wrong.

Source:  The Wall Street Journal, "Senate Clears Way for McCaskill's Military Sex-Assault Bill" Kristina Peterson, Mar. 06, 2014

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