President Praises Leaders for New Sexual Assault Policies

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04/23/2012 07:46 PM CDT

President Praises Defense Leaders for Department's New Sexual Assault Policies

By John Valceanu
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, April 23, 2012 - President Barack Obama released a statement today praising the Defense Department's senior leaders for issuing new policies designed to combat sexual assault in the military.

"I applaud the initiatives that Secretary of Defense Leon E. Panetta and [Army] Gen. Martin Dempsey, the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, have announced to further combat sexual assault in the military," Obama said in the statement.

Under new policy guidance issued by Panetta on April 20, unit commanders at the company or squadron level no longer have authority to decide whether to take further action in reported cases of attempted rape, forcible sodomy or sexual assault.

Defense officials said the new policy will allow more experienced and less partial officers to make the initial decision on whether a sexual assault case goes to trial, and it will add consistency to how such cases are handled.

"Elevating these cases to a higher level of command review is a very important step," Obama said.

The president said he believes sexual assault has no place and in the military, and service members "deserve an environment that is free from the threat of sexual assault, and in which allegations of sexual assault are thoroughly investigated, offenders are held appropriately accountable, and victims are given the care and support they need."

Obama expressed his appreciation for the senior leaders' attention to the issue.

"I thank Secretary Panetta and Chairman Dempsey and look forward to seeing continued progress on this important issue," the president said.

Leon E. Panetta
Army Gen. Martin E. Dempsey

Related Sites:
President's Statement on on Department of Defense Initiatives to Combat Sexual Assault in the Military
White House Blog Post: Combating Sexual Assault in the United States Military

Related Articles:
Officials Explain New Sexual Assault Policies
Panetta, Dempsey Announce Initiatives to Stop Sexual Assault