Rep. Speier: U.S. military ‘sweeps sexual offenses under the rug’
Rep. Jackie Speier (D-CA) delivered her fifteenth speech on the House floor condemning the pervasive problem of sexual harassment and rape in the U.S. military.
To call attention to the problem, she has been telling the stories of women who were sexually harassed and assaulted while serving in U.S military.
“This morning I’m going to tell you the story of U.S. Marine Stephanie Schroeder who was raped in a public rest room by a fellow Marine,” she said. “He shoved her down, beat her, and force her on her back. He ripped down her pants and raped her. Then he ejaculated on her thigh and spit on her.”
When she reported the incident to her commanding officer, Schroeder was laughed at and told to stop “bitching” about it.
“Instead of helping her, her commander called her a liar and restricted her from seeking medical help or any type of counseling,” Speier continued. “What’s worse is that her commander did nothing illegal. The military judicial system allows commanders complete discretion for handling cases of rape and sexual assault.”
According to a Pentagon report on sexual abuse in the military, violent sexual assaults have nearly doubled since 2006. The report found a U.S soldier committed a violent sexual assault every six hours and 40 minutes in 2011.
Speier has introduced H.R. 3435, the STOP Act, which would create a new autonomous group within the military to handle the prosecution, reporting, investigation and all other aspects of a sexual assault case. Currently, those powers are exercised solely at the discretion of the unit commander.
“Instead of continuing a system that punishes victims and sweeps sexual offenses under the rug, I dare the Department of Defense to create an impartial office to review and handle these cases with experts in prosecution and investigation,” she said.