Dropped Rape Cases Against Santa Cruz Gunman Highlight Military Issues
SANTA CRUZ (CBS/AP) – An Army official said this week there was not enough evidence to proceed with a rape prosecution against the man who killed two Santa Cruz police officers, fueling the debate over how the military investigates sex crimes.
Jeremy Goulet fatally shot Sgt. Loran Baker and Detective Elizabeth Butler on February 26th, before being killed in a shootout with police. He had had twice been accused of rape while he was a soldier in 2006.
The Army said DNA and fingerprint evidence failed to link Goulet to two alleged victims. While Goulet was never charged, he received a less than honorable discharge.
Peninsula Congresswoman Jackie Speier said the case highlights the urgent need for the military to change how it investigates the estimated 19,000 sexual assaults that take place in the Armed Forces every year.
“There is gross conflict of interest because so many of the victims have to report the crime to either their superior who did it, or someone in their chain of command who did it,” Speier said.
Speier has introduced legislation that would take disciple for sexual assault complaints out of the chain of command, but still within the jurisdiction of the military justice system.
Former Defense Secretary Leon Panetta said it would be a mistake to make civilian courts responsible for prosecuting service members accused of committing a crime, as called for by grassroots organizations such as Take Back Santa Cruz.
“The military has to be able to discipline its own,” Panetta said, adding that the military has already made several reforms to confront the issue of sexual assault, but much more needs to be done.
“We’ve got to be able to reach a point where there is zero tolerance for sexual assaults in the military,” he said.
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