McCaskill says senior officials should be involved in reporting military sexual assaults

Senators rushed to introduce legislation addressing sexual assault in the military after the Pentagon released a report in May that nearly 26,000 military service members were victims of sexual assault during the previous year. The Armed Services Committee will be considering measures addressing the issue on Wednesday.

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“Certainly no woman or man wants to come forward and talk about being a victim of this crime,” McCaskill said. “These are difficult cases to bring forward because of the intensely personal nature.”

Sen. Kirsten GillibrandKirsten GillibrandOvernight Finance: McConnell offers 'clean' funding bill | Dems pan proposal | Flint aid, internet measure not included | More heat for Wells Fargo | New concerns on investor visas Senate Dems call for investigation into Wells Fargo's wage practices Fears mount that Obama will change course on Israel in final months MORE (D-N.Y.) called for a plan that would have removed senior military officials from the sexual assault reporting process, but some members of the Senate Armed Services Committee — including McCaskill — weren’t convinced that completely changing the military code of justice was the best reform.

Sens. Patty MurrayPatty MurraySenate Dems: Add Flint aid to spending deal Dems call for better birth control access for female troops US wins aerospace subsidies trade case over the EU MORE (D-Wash.) and Kelly AyotteKelly AyotteDems gain upper hand on budget GOP senators hit FBI on early probe of NY bombing suspect Senate rivals gear up for debates MORE (R-N.H.) introduced another bill that would have created a special victims unit within the military to help victims through the existing reporting process, among other things.

McCaskill said the Armed Services Committee would be discussing a plan that differs from Gillibrand’s. Chairman Carl LevinCarl LevinThe Fed and a return to banking simplicity What Our presidential candidates can learn from Elmo Zumwalt Will there be a 50-50 Senate next year? MORE (D-Mich.) has proposed an alternative.

McCaskill added that Levin's alternative would be an improvement from Gillibrand’s bill because it would also make it a crime to retaliate against military sexual assault victims who report the wrongdoing.

“I believe these reforms will do a better job of getting predators behind bars and ultimately creating a more supportive environment for victims to come forward,” McCaskill said. “If more changes are necessary, I will be the first in line to work for them. ... Any coward who besmirches the pride of our military by committing a sexual assault should go to prison and that is what will happen under these provisions.”