Several young female privates from Fort Hood military base in Killeen, Texas, testified in court last week that they were pressured to prostitute themselves to superiors.
That’s bad enough, but even worse is the shocking discovery that the senior soldier who pressed them was the officer whose job it was to prevent sexual assaults in his unit.
These revelations came out in the military trial of Master Sgt. Brad Grimes, who on December 3 was found guilty by a Fort Hood jury of conspiring to patronize a prostitute and solicit adultery.
According to Grimes’ attorney Daniel Conway, Grimes met a young private at a La Quinta Inn for a “hook up,” but ultimately decided not to have sex with her.
The young private disagreed with this story and testified that she did have sex with Grimes and that he paid her $100.
Well, surprise, surprise, the jury chose to believe Grimes and not the young woman. The 17-year Army veteran, who served in Iraq and Afghanistan, was acquitted of adultery and patronizing a prostitute, but was ordered reprimanded and reduced in rank just one pay grade, from E-8 to E-7.
In other words, he received barely any punishment at all. His sentence could have been much harsher: a year of confinement, reduction to private and a bad conduct discharge, but somehow he got out of all that.
No Charges Filed Against the Soldier Running the Prostitution Ring
Even more egregious, absolutely no charges have been filed against the alleged leader of the ring, Sgt. First Class Gregory McQueen, who continues to serve on active duty, although he has been stripped of his responsibilities as a sex-assault prevention officer on the Texas base.
Apparently there will be no other punishment, in spite of the fact that a second private has accused McQueen of abusive sexual contact during an “interview” to be part of the ring, according to investigative documents obtained by the Austin American-Statesman.
And guess what? One reason McQueen hasn’t been arrested is because Grimes wouldn’t testify against him — what the New Republic called “the buddy-buddy refusal to report on a predatory peer,” part of “the military’s corrosive gender culture.”
Congress Must Pass the Military Justice Improvement Act
This is exactly why Congress must pass the Military Justice Improvement Act (MJIA).
Rape in the military is at a horrific level, and while the military has been arguing that it can clean up its act, the fact is that in 2012 alone, there were an outrageous 26,000 sexual assaults in the U.S. armed forces, crimes ranging from sexual harassment to rape. Yet only about 3,500 of these crimes were reported.
When asked why, fifty percent of survivors of sexual assault who did not report said that they didn’t believe that anything would be done with their case.
The military needs to do better than that. It’s clear that the prosecution of cases like this need to be removed from the purview of military commanders.
MJIA would do just that, moving the decision of whether to prosecute sexual assault cases out of the chain-of-command and giving it to independent, objective, trained military prosecutors.
Senate Republicans Block MJIA Vote
MJIA would work by amending the National Defense Appropriations Act (NDAA). However, Senate Republicans blocked the bill from coming to a vote on the floor on November 22, before heading out for a two-week recess.
As Paul Rieckhoff, writing in The Huffington Post, explains:
Two things may happen now to this bill. Senate leaders can come back from their Thanksgiving break and come to an agreement to allow the NDAA to move forward. This could include a vote on the Military Justice Improvement Act. If the NDAA continues to stall or Senators don’t allow a vote on the MJIA, bill sponsor Senator Kirsten Gillibrand will ask for a separate vote on MJIA. We’ll have to stay tuned until after Senators return from an extensive Thanksgiving break to find out what will happen on the Senate floor.
For the sake of those young women in Texas, and all the thousands of victims of sexual assault in the military, the Senate must pass Senator Kirsten Gillibrand’s Military Justice Improvement Act.
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