By RICHARD LARDNER and YURI KAGEYAMA
Copyright 2014 The Associated Press
WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon is coming under pressure to give Congress detailed information on the handling of sex crime cases in the armed forces after an Associated Press investigation that found a pattern of inconsistent judgments and light penalties for sexual assaults at U.S. bases in Japan.
Democratic Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York, who has led efforts in Congress to address military sexual crimes, is pressing the Defense Department to turn over case information from four major U.S. bases: Fort Hood in Texas, Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia, the Marine Corps' Camp Pendleton in California, and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.
Such records would shed more light on how military commanders make decisions about courts-martial and punishments in sexual assault cases and whether the inconsistent judgments seen in Japan are more widespread.
AP's investigation, which was based on hundreds of internal military documents it first began requesting in 2009, found that what appeared to be strong cases were often reduced to lesser charges. Suspects were unlikely to serve time even when military authorities agreed a crime had been committed. In two rape cases, commanders overruled recommendations to court-martial and dropped the charges instead.
Gillibrand, who leads the Senate Armed Services personnel panel, wrote Monday to Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel asking for "all reports and allegations of rape, forcible sodomy, sexual assault, sex in the barracks, adultery and attempts, conspiracies or solicitations to commit these crimes," for the last five years.