Prosecuting Rapes in the Ranks: Our View
No one wants to think that the college student down the hall or the serviceman in his barracks is a serial rapist. But when someone commits what’s commonly called “date rape” or “acquaintance rape,” chances are he’ll do it again.
Acquaintance rape — which describes most sexual assaults in the military — isn’t typically about missed signals or a one-time error in judgment, as many people think. It’s about predators committing multiple crimes, which is why the military’s sorry record of prosecuting rapists contributes to what has become a worsening plague.
When the Senate returns next week, it has an opportunity to force real change by approving a much-needed overhaul of the system for prosecuting sexual assaults in the military. The overhaul is championed by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., and publicly supported by 53 senators, including nine Republicans. But the plan faces opposition from the Pentagon and from lawmakers who favor other options that would make some improvements but fall far short of what’s needed.