Army fights on sexual assault, promotes victim awareness
The U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command wants to reassure and remind the Army community - Soldiers, leaders, Family members and civilians, that sexual assaults are investigated as serious crimes and that there are several ways to report these crimes, and various agencies available to assist victims.
Criminal investigators also want victims to know they have several options when reporting these crimes and to remind leaders at every level it is their legal and moral duty to report any acts of violence or misconduct.
"Let it be known, we are on call 24 hours a day to investigate crime and we consider any and all allegations of sexual assault of the utmost importance and take them very seriously," said Chris Grey, chief of public affairs, USACIDC. "We cannot investigate what we do not know, so we strongly encourage victims to contact us immediately if they decide to take that course of action."
The following are reporting options and resources available to sexual assault victims.
Unrestricted Reporting is for victims of sexual assault who want medical treatment, counseling and an official investigation of the crime. A victim has many options when taking this course of action. They can report the crime through their chain of command and or they can go directly to the Military Police or their local CID office for help. They can also contact their local Sexual Assault Response Coordinator or request healthcare providers to notify law enforcement.
"Sexual assault is a felony and commanders must report acts of violence such as this to the proper authorities…unless a victim chooses to restrict her or his report," Grey said. "If a victim is not certain the crime has been properly reported, they should contact their local CID office immediately."
If a victim wants to report a sexual assault to law enforcement, it should be done as soon as possible after the assault. The victim should remember to preserve as much evidence as possible. CID recognizes how traumatic a sexual assault can be for victims, but at the same time stresses how vital evidence can be.
At the victim's discretion/request, the healthcare provider shall conduct a sexual assault forensic examination, which may include the collection of evidence. Details regarding the incident will be limited to only those personnel who have a legitimate need to know about the investigation.
"CID wants to do everything possible to ensure we bring to justice anyone who has committed a sexual assault and more importantly, to help prevent it," Grey said. "CID Special Agents are some of the most highly trained sexual assault investigators in law enforcement and victims need to understand our door is always open, and they can always come to us for help at any time."
Restricted Reporting is for victims of sexual assault who wish to confidentially disclose the crime to specific individuals and receive medical treatment and counseling without starting the investigative process. Service members who are sexually assaulted and desire restricted reporting under this policy must report the assault to a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, Victim Advocate, healthcare provider or a chaplain. The policy on restricted reporting is in addition to the current protections regarding communications with a chaplain, and does not affect those protections.
The United States Army is on the offensive to put an end to sexual assault and sexual harassment within its ranks. The Army's SHARP (Sexual Harassment/Assault Response & Prevention) program and I. A.M. STRONG campaign aims to combat sexual assault through prevention. Also, CID has brought onboard seven highly qualified experts in the field of sexual assault and is hiring 30 additional criminal investigators with extensive backgrounds in sexual assault case management and investigations.
"Our goal is to erase sexual assault and sexual harassment from the life of the United States Army," said Pete Geren, Secretary of the United States Army. "We've proven in so many other areas that we can distinguish ourselves from the rest of society, and this is going to be one of those examples that we're going to set for the nation."
Additional resources to help victims can be found under the Victims Assistance link on the CID home page. To report a crime or for more information contact your local CID office or visit www.cid.army.mil.