President BidenJoe BidenDeputy AG: DOJ investigating fake Trump electors On The Money Vaccine-or-test mandate for businesses nixedWarner tests positive for breakthrough COVID-19 caseMORE on Wednesday signed an executive order making sexual harassment a criminal offense under the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) and enhancing the militarys response to domestic violence and wrongful distribution of intimate visual images.
The order follows the sweeping military justice reforms included in the 2022 National Defense Authorization Act, which for the first time criminalizes the offense under the code.
The Biden- Harris administration thanks Congress for the bipartisan commitment to pass monumental reforms to our military justice system, White House press secretary Jen PsakiJen PsakiOvernight Health Care Senators unveil pandemic prep overhaulQatar emir to meet with Biden at White House next weekWhite House underscores action amid violent crime streakMORE told reporters. We also look forward to continuing to work with Congress to support the safety and dignity of our service members.
Among the military justice reforms included in the $768 million NDAA, Biden had 30 days from its enactment to codify sexual harassment as a stand-alone crime under the UCMJ and to amend the Manual for Courts-Martial to include the offense.
Further, it established that complaints of sexual harassment would be handled by independent investigators outside of the military chain of command.
That military services reported receiving 1,781 sexual harassment complaints in fiscal year 2020, according to a Pentagon report released in May. This includes including 984 formal complaints, 765 informal complaints and 32 anonymous complaints.
Of the sexual harassment complaints, a total of 331 complaints involved nonconsensual distribution of private sexual images.
The wrongful broadcast or distribution of intimate visual images is currently a crime under the UCMJ. However, the code doesnt explicitly outline sentencing parameters for the crime outside of saying that the offense shall be punished as a court-martial may direct.
Psaki said that the “historic addition” of sexual harassment honors the memory of Army Spc. Vanessa Guillén, who was killed in 2020 by after being allegedly being hit in the head inside an armory room at Fort Hood by Spec. Aaron Robinson.
A report released in April found that Guillén had been sexually harassed multiple times before her slaying, but not Robinson.
Psaki also said the order follows through on several recommendations from the Independent Review Commission the Pentagon established to examine the militarys response to sexual assault.
That report recommended an overhaul of how the military handles domestic violence and the nonconsensual distribution of private images.