Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Too Many Serial Rapists Are Not Caught

Newspaper article The Florida Times Union

Too Many Serial Rapists Are Not Caught

Article excerpt

Next to murder, rape is the most disturbing crime. Yet it is clear that America has a long-term rape problem.

On military bases, on college campuses, serial rapists have too often been getting away with their crimes.

Thanks to modern technology, serial rapists are being identified and caught. The key is the usage of rape kits that contain the DNA of suspected rapists.

The DNA can identify a person wrongly accused of a crime, of course, but in many cases the stored DNA has identified people who have been successfully on the prowl.

Also, members of Congress in recent years have been going after the predators in the military and calling out a military justice system that sometimes treats offenders lightly.

THE MILITARY SITUATION

A new report from U.S. Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., shows that the scourge of sexual violence in the military is "vastly underreported."

On some bases the scope of sexual violence is underreported by 50 percent.

Yet in a December 2014 report, the Department of Defense estimated an annual 20,000 of the military's active duty members had experienced sexual assault in the last year.

Gillibrand's office received reports on sexual abuse charges from the largest military bases of the four military services.

The Department of Defense provided 107 case files for the 2013 year that shed light on the true scope of the problem.

Examples that were reviewed:

- A potential serial rapist was identified, but no punishment given.

- A wife accused her husband of rape, she committed suicide four days later. No punishment.

- An instructor was charged with sexual assault. The survivor was willing to testify. No trial.

Military spouses and civilian when living near military bases are not being counted in the Defense Department's surveys on sexual violence.

Not only are the military members in danger but civilians are, as well.

"Civilians, especially spouses, are especially vulnerable and that the military justice system continues to struggle to provide justice," the Gillibrand report stated.

The case files also show that 50 of the 104 claimants who went forward with initial charges eventually declined to pursue them. Fear of retaliation is the most likely reason, followed by a lack of faith in the system with a built-in conflict of interest.

Often the final authority in these cases is a commanding officer who does not have enough legal training, advised by a staff judge advocate who may not have the criminal justice experience that an independent prosecutor would have.

Research shows that only 2 percent to 8 percent of accusations are false.

Other revelations in the cases:

- A conviction seems to require a confession from the accused. …

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