New York senator pushes for changes in military sexual assault cases

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WASHINGTON (Gray DC) -- Adrian Perry was a happy military spouse, traveling the world with her husband and three children. That was until she said her husbands’ commander sexually molested their 6-year-old daughter at Camp Lejeune in North Carolina.

Perry immediately told military police. She said they did nothing.

The commander who denies the allegations has never been charged with the crime.

“I should not have to fight to have a protective order enforced properly for my children," Perry said.

This is the first time she’s taking her to story to Capitol Hill. She is supporting a bill that would take the decision over whether to prosecute serious crimes out of the chain of command and give it to independent trained military prosecutors.

“Having command have the authority to make these legal decisions it’s failing so many people. It failed my six year old," she added.

The Department of Defense estimates 15,000 sexual assaults by service members against other members or civilians, just 9% of them were sentenced.

“We’re not seeing the system get better," New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY) said.

This is the fifth time New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has introduced her bill called the Military Justice Improvement Act.

She said she hasn’t been given a vote on the bill in nearly two and a half years.

“It is something that people think is debatable, it is something that people think is unanimous and a lot of people don’t want to take on the generals. When the generals say no they want to leave it the way it is and I think that is the wrong instinct," Gillibrand added.

The senate has passed other reforms governing the military justice system, like Senators Claire McCaskill (D-MO) and Joni Ernst’s (R-IA) bill to curb sexual assault. McCaskill strongly believes the Commanders' powers to launch courts-martial should be retained. Ernst said she wants to see progress made on reforms already in place.

"I am committed to continuing to build off of these recent changes, which is why I have been working on additional reforms to strengthen policy for prevention, improve victim support, enhance the quality of prosecution, and stop retaliation in sexual assault cases," Ernst shared with Gray TV in a statement.

For mothers like Adrian, waiting isn’t an option.

“I’m hoping that my story isn’t falling on deaf ears and that change will finally be made," Adrian added.

Gillibrand hopes that with the nation so focused on issues like sexual harassment and sexual assault this time might be different for a vote to happen on the floor.

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