U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand called for changes to how the military investigates and prosecutes sexual assault after a report on Thursday found an estimated 14,900 increase in the number of reported cases.
Gillibrand, who is vying for the Democratic nomination for president, has sought to change how sexual assault cases are handled through the passage of a bill that would have them prosecuted outside of the chair of command.
“Almost six years after the Chairman of the Joint Chiefs said the Pentagon was on the clock to solve this problem, sexual assaults continue to increase dramatically while the number of cases going to trial goes down. The status quo is not working,” Gillibrand said. “It’s time for Congress to step up and bring accountability where the Department of Defense has repeatedly failed. The evidence is clear – we need to pass the Military Justice Improvement Act so that trained military prosecutors can handle these cases moving forward and give survivors confidence in the system. We must create an unbiased military justice system worthy of their sacrifice.”
The report released Thursday found there were an estimated 20,500 sexual assault instances in the military based on a 2017 survey.
Gillibrand’s office says cases have increased by 50 percent from 8,500 in 2016 to 13,000 in 2018.