Grassley Q&A on preventing sexual assault

AssaultFrom Press Release


Q: What more can be done to reduce sexual violence in society?

A: The President signed a proclamation making April National Sexual Assault Awareness and Prevention Month. Obviously, the stroke of a presidential pen isn’t going to solve this issue in the 30 days of April. If only it were that simple to erase the scars of assault created by this violent crime against humanity. For too long, sexual violence and human trafficking have left behind a trail of victims, survivors and families coping with anguish and the arduous road to healing. Making society a safer place for our youngest generations to live their lives free from sexual assault is just one of every parent’s fervent wishes for their children. As young adults grow up and head out into the world, Americans deserve to know society is doing everything possible to prevent sexual assault, especially in our most acclaimed institutions of society, including college campuses and our nation’s military.  In fact, a message of zero tolerance needs to be set at the highest levels of the federal government. Take for example the unconscionable lack of accountability within some of our nation’s federal law enforcement entities. In the last few years, a string of sex scandals involving prostitutes being solicited by public servants working for the FBI, Secret Service and most recently, the Drug Enforcement Administration, reflect an embarrassing lack of ethics and moral code of conduct by federal agents hired to flush out illicit, criminal activity at home and abroad.  It should go without saying that this type of conduct by federal law enforcement personnel – on or off the clock – cannot be tolerated.  This behavior telegraphs the wrong message about acceptable sexual conduct to society and contributes to the demand for the human sex trade around the world.

Q:  What can be done in Congress to move society in the right direction on this issue?

A: For starters, I am supporting a pair of measures that would address two broken systems of justice found on our college campuses and within our military institutions. First, a flawed reporting system on college campuses requires a stronger set of tools that would help survivors of sexual assault and also protect the rights of the accused. I co-sponsored the “Campus Accountability and Safety Act” that was reintroduced in February with Sen. Claire McCaskill and a bipartisan coalition of senators. It would establish new campus resources and support services for students, including a requirement that colleges designate a confidential advisor for survivors of sexual violence; new transparency and reporting requirements; coordination between colleges and local law enforcement; and, protections for due process rights of survivors and the accused. It would increase financial penalties for colleges found not in compliance with the new standards. Cases of sexual assault, which too often go unreported on college campuses and in our own communities, require sustained, collective attention by policymakers, law enforcement, advocates and survivors. Every student who heads off to a college campus in America deserves to know that there is a system in place to secure justice and due process for the victim and the accused.  Likewise, every young man and woman who serves his or her country in uniform deserves to know that sexual assault is a crime and will be treated and prosecuted as a crime. In the last Congress, I co-sponsored the bipartisan “Military Justice Improvement Act” with Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand that would empower enlisted soldiers and sailors to come forward and report a sexual crime. It would create an independent system of justice within the ranks of the military. It would remove the chain of command from prosecutorial decisions regarding sexual assault. The fear of retaliation and retribution in the military has failed too many survivors of sexual assault. The current system has contributed to an effect that emboldens predators instead of empowering victims. Barring access to fair and impartial justice pours salt in the wounds of those who have suffered immeasurable indignity and harm while serving their country in uniform. I will continue working to advance bipartisan measures through Congress to send a clear message. Sexual assault is a crime. The sooner our culture and systems of justice on college campuses and in the nation’s military work together to deter, prosecute and stop sexual violence, the safer our society will be for America’s sons and daughters growing up in the 21st century.