Feedback: Law Would Help Victims Get Justice
"Outrage" and "disgust" - those are the words used to describe the reaction to new numbers from the Pentagon that show the number of cases of sexual assault in the military has increased over the last year.
Equally disturbing to some is the fact that just a fraction of those cases are ever reported.
The Defense Department estimated more than 26,000 troops experienced "unwanted sexual contact" last year.
It's a big jump from 19,300 cases in 2010.
Of those 26,000 sexual assault cases, only 3,374 were actually reported last year.
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand (D. - NY) says many victims hesitate to report sexual assault to their chain of command.
Part of the problem, according to Gillibrand, is that commanding officers have the ability to reverse criminal convictions, including sexual assault cases.
"What we hear from the victims is they often don't report because they are afraid of retaliation or being marginalized or being basically blamed, that they are the troublemaker, and they fear for their careers," said Gillibrand.
Gillibrand is introducing legislation that would strip commanders of their power to make decisions regarding sexual assault cases.
"What we want to do is make it possible to report to somebody who is trained in sexual assault, a prosecutor, someone outside the chain of command so they can have a sense they may receive justice," she said.
Gillibrand expects to introduce the legislation next week.
A similar bill is being introduced in the House of Representatives.