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US Senate unanimously passes military sex assault reform

US Republican Senator Kelly Ayotte (R) of New Hampshire and Democratic Senator Claire McCaskill of Missouri speak about legislation to curb rapes and sexual assaults in the US military at the US Capitol in Washington, on February 6, 2014The Senate unanimously approved reforms Monday aimed at curbing sexual assaults in the US military, after a similar but more far-reaching measure failed last week. The Victims Protection Act, authored by Senator Claire McCaskill, a former sex crimes prosector, would bolster recently codified reforms that strip commanders of their ability to overturn jury convictions, assign victims their own independent legal counsel to protect their rights, and criminalize retaliation against victims who report such crimes. The bill, which must pass the House of Representatives before it becomes law, would “ensure that victims of sexual assault in the military will be treated with dignity and responsibility,” said Senator Kelly Ayotte, a Republican co-sponsor. The bill would gut the so-called “good soldier” defense, which allows military personnel to use their professional good standing to make their case before a military court.

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