U.S. Senator Claire McCaskill today grilled top Air Force brass on the culture and policies surrounding the handling of sexual assault cases in the military. McCaskill's questioning comes the day after the Air Force officer in charge of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response was arrested outside a Virginia bar for sexual battery.
"You have got a wealth of people in the Air Force who understand what this job has to be, and if the allegations in this case are true this was not someone who understood what his job was about," said McCaskill, a former Jackson County Prosecutor and a senior member of the Senate Armed Services Committee. "I will be watching very closely who is selected to replace him, because I think this will be one of those times you can send a message."
Today's Senate hearing included Air Force Secretary Michael Donley and Chief of Staff Mark Welsh. McCaskill also asked the leaders their opinions on mandating the inclusion of a victim's statement in any clemency hearing conducted by a Convening Authority.
"From a common sense perspective it makes sense," said Secretary Donley in response to McCaskill's question.
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.