U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill, a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, today released the following statement responding to a letter sent by Lt. General Craig Franklin explaining his decision to overturn a jury verdict in a sexual assault case at Aviano Air Base:
"This explanation crystalizes exactly why the convening authority should not have the unilateral ability to overturn a jury verdict-and why we need legislation that restricts their ability to do so. This letter is filled with selective reasoning and assumptions from someone with no legal training, and it's appalling that the reasoning spelled out in the letter served as the basis to overturn a jury verdict in this case."
In response to a recent sexual assault case at Aviano Air Base in Italy, McCaskill grilled military leaders in two Senate hearings, and subsequently introduced legislation that would curtail the authority of military commanders to dismiss jury convictions against sex offenders. McCaskill's bill would also require written justifications when sentences are lessened or commuted.
McCaskill previously took action to respond to reports of sexual assault occurring at Fort Leonard Wood that were detailed in a St. Louis Post-Dispatch investigation. McCaskill won inclusion of provisions in the 2012 and 2013 National Defense Authorization Acts designed to improve the military's response to sexual assault and encourage the services to adopt training for sexual assault investigators developed at the Army's Military Police School at Fort Leonard Wood.