Press Releases

Frankel, South Florida Veteran Push for Change in Military Sexual Assault Law

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WASHINGTON, DC, September 28, 2015 | comments

Congresswoman Lois Frankel joined her constituent Elisha Morrow at a recent subcommittee meeting of the Judicial Proceedings Panel designated to study Section 120 of the military code on rape and sexual assault.  Frankel and Morrow pushed for changes to the law in order to address use of military authority to coerce sexual activity.

Morrow told the panel of how she and other female recruits were sexually harassed at Coast Guard boot camp by the company commander who ultimately used his position of authority to force unwanted sexual contact on one of them.  Even though the Commander acknowledged his actions, he wasn’t prosecuted for rape or sexual assault because the recruit was not in fear of her life. He instead was sentenced to one year confinement for maltreatment of a subordinate and adultery.  This sent Morrow on a mission to fix the law.

“The subcommittee offered very thoughtful and probing questions, recognizing the importance and complexity of the issues.” said Frankel. “Our service men and women protect us; we need to protect them.  Using one’s position of authority to compel a sexual act is no different from using a drug or a weapon.”

“The hearing was a positive experience,” said Morrow. “It’s good to know the panel is taking it seriously and looking at all aspects of the issue. Until we start addressing this at the appropriate level, it will continue to be a big problem.”

Frankel’s amendment to the National Defense Authorization Act of 2014 instructed the military to examine the need for a new definition of rape and sexual assault to take into account cases where someone abuses their position in the Military Chain of Command to compel unwanted sexual contact.



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