Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Sexual Assault Allegations in CA National Guard to Be Investigated by Civilian Authorities Under New Law

california law, sexual assault, military
Under new legislation which was approved by the California Senate and signed by Governor Jerry Brown, allegations of sexual assault in the National Guard in CA will now be investigated and, if necessary, prosecuted by civilian authorities rather than military tribunals.  Specifically, the new legislation (SB-1422 "Military Courts: sexual assault: courts-martial"), "would restrict the authority of the department of the National Guard to assert jurisdiction over qualifying sexual assault offenses, ..., by a member of the active militia when subject to the Uniform Code of Military Justice, to occasions when a civilian prosecutorial authority refuses to prosecute on behalf of the state."  The bill was given unanimous approval by the Cal. Senate and was signed by Gov. Brown.

In the words of the bill's author, California State Senator, Alex Padilla (Democrat - Pacoima), “Sexual assault is a serious problem throughout our military. While Washington debates how to address this crisis, California can lead by example. Victims of sexual assault deserve our support and a respectful and effective justice system.”

As I have discussed in prior blog posts, sexual assault in our military ranks in the U.S. is a real problem that needs to be addressed.  Unfortunately, the California National Guard has limited resources and doesn't have the judicial arm able to fully prosecute these claims.  The law will apply to the entire California Military Department (CMD), which includes the National Guard, State Military Reserve and Naval Militia.  It is not intended to supercede federal law or authority with regard to active military service personnel not serving within the CMD.