Text: H.R.5197 — 111th Congress (2009-2010)All Bill Information (Except Text)

There is one version of the bill.

Text available as:

Shown Here:
Introduced in House (05/03/2010)


111th CONGRESS
2d Session
H. R. 5197

To implement recommendations of the Defense Task Force on Sexual Assault in the Military Services.


IN THE HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
May 3, 2010

Ms. Tsongas (for herself, Mr. Turner, Ms. Shea-Porter, Mrs. McMorris Rodgers, Ms. Giffords, Ms. DeLauro, Ms. Harman, Mr. Walz, Mr. McGovern, Mrs. Capps, and Mr. Cleaver) introduced the following bill; which was referred to the Committee on Armed Services


A BILL

To implement recommendations of the Defense Task Force on Sexual Assault in the Military Services.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives of the United States of America in Congress assembled,

SECTION 1. Short title.

This Act may be cited as the “Defense Sexual Trauma Response Oversight and Good Governance Act” (the “Defense STRONG Act”).

SEC. 2. Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office.

(a) Appointment of director; duties.—Chapter 3 of title 10, United States Code, is amended by inserting after section 136a the following new section:

§ 136b. Director of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office

“(a) Appointment.—There is a Director of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office who shall be a general or flag officer or an employee of the Department of Defense in a comparable Senior Executive Service position.

“(b) Duties.—The Director of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office serves as the Department’s single point of authority, accountability, and oversight for Department policy regarding prevention and response to sexual assault and provides oversight to ensure that the sexual assault programs of the military departments comply with Department policy.

“(c) Standardization.—The Secretary of Defense shall require the use of consistent sexual assault prevention and response terminology, position descriptions, minimum program standards, and organizational structures throughout the armed forces.”.

(b) Clerical amendment.—The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 136a the following new item:


“136b. Director of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office.”.

SEC. 3. Sexual Assault Response Coordinators and Sexual Assault Victim Advocates.

(a) Assignment and training.—Chapter 80 of title 10, United States Code, is amended by adding at the end the following new section:

§ 1568. Sexual assault prevention and response: Sexual Assault Response Coordinators and Victim Advocates

“(a) Assignment of coordinators.—(1) At least one full-time Sexual Assault Response Coordinator shall be assigned at the brigade or equivalent or higher unit level. The Secretary concerned may assign additional Sexual Assault Response Coordinators as necessary based on the demographics or needs of the unit. Any additional Sexual Assault Response Coordinator for a unit shall also serve on a full-time basis.

“(2) To ensure access to members of the Armed Forces in response to a report of a sexual assault involving a member, only members of the Armed Forces and civilian employees of the Department of Defense may be assigned to duty as a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator. Contractor employees may not serve as a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, except on a temporary, emergency basis.

“(b) Assignment of victim advocates.—(1) At least one full-time Sexual Assault Victim Advocate shall be assigned to each battalion or equivalent unit. The Secretary concerned may assign additional Victim Advocates as necessary based on the demographics or needs of the unit. The additional Victim Advocates may serve on a full-time or part-time basis at the discretion of the Secretary.

“(2) Only members of the armed forces and civilian employees of the Department of Defense may be assigned to duty as a Victim Advocate. Contractor employees may not serve as a Victim Advocate, except on a temporary, emergency basis.

“(c) Training and certification.—(1) The Secretary of Defense shall establish a professional and uniform training and certification program for Sexual Assault Response Coordinators and Victim Advocates. In developing the program, the Secretary of Defense shall work with the National Organization for Victim Advocates. The program shall be structured and administered in a manner similar to the professional training available for Equal Opportunity Advisors through the Defense Equal Opportunity Management Institute.

“(2) Effective beginning one year after the date of the enactment of this section, before a member or civilian employee may be assigned to duty as a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, the member or employee must have completed the training program required by paragraph (1) and obtained the certification.

“(3) A member or civilian employee assigned to duty as a Victim Advocate may obtain certification under the training program required by paragraph (1). At a minimum, the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator to whom a Victim Advocate reports shall train the Victim Advocate using the same training materials used to train the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator under the program.

“(d) Performance evaluations.—Performance evaluation reports pertaining to a member of the Armed Forces assigned to serve as a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator or Victim Advocate shall comment on the performance of the member in the position.”.

(b) Clerical amendment.—The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is amended by adding at the end the following new item:


“1568. Sexual assault prevention and response: Sexual Assault Response Coordinators and Victim Advocates.”.

SEC. 4. Sexual assault victims access to legal counsel and Victim Advocate services.

(a) Access.—Chapter 53 of title 10, United States Code, is amended by inserting after section 1044d the following new section:

§ 1044e. Access to legal assistance and Victim Advocate services for victims of sexual assault

“(a) Access.—A member of the Armed Forces or a dependent of a member of the Armed Forces who is the victim of a sexual assault is entitled to legal assistance provided by a military legal assistance counsel and Victim Advocate services, regardless of whether the member or dependent elects unrestricted or restricted (confidential) reporting of the sexual assault.

“(b) Restricted reporting option.—(1) A member or dependent referred to in subsection (a) may confidentially disclose the details of the assault to an individual specified in paragraph (2) and receive medical treatment, legal assistance, or counseling, without triggering an official investigation of the allegations.

“(2) Individuals covered by paragraph (1) are the following:

“(A) Military legal assistance counsel.

“(B) Sexual Assault Response Coordinator.

“(C) Victim Advocate.

“(D) Healthcare personnel.

“(E) Chaplain.

“(c) Privileged communications.—(1) Communications between a member or dependent referred to in subsection (a) and a Victim Advocate, and records of such communications created by or for the Department of Defense, are confidential and privileged. Such communications and records may not be disclosed to any person or entity without the consent of the member or dependent involved.

“(2) No part of any communication or record referred to in paragraph (1) may be subject to discovery or admitted into evidence in any judicial or administrative proceeding without the consent of the member or dependent involved.

“(d) Definitions.—In this section:

“(1) The term ‘sexual assault’ means any of the offenses covered by section 920 of this title (article 120).

“(2) The term ‘military legal assistance counsel’ means—

“(A) a judge advocate (as defined in section 801(13) of this title); or

“(B) a civilian attorney serving as a legal assistance officer under the provisions of section 1044 of this title.”.

(b) Clerical amendment.—The table of sections at the beginning of such chapter is amended by inserting after the item relating to section 1044d the following new item:


“1044e. Access to legal assistance and Victim Advocate services for victims of sexual assault.”.

(c) Conforming amendment regarding provision of legal counsel.—Section 1044(d)(3)(B) of such title is amended by striking “sections 1044a, 1044b, 1044c, and 1044d” and inserting “sections 1044a through 1044e”.

SEC. 5. Inclusion of sexual assault prevention and response training module at each level of professional military education.

The Secretary of Defense shall provide for the inclusion of a sexual assault prevention and response training module at each level of professional military education. The training shall be tailored to the new responsibilities and leadership requirements of members of the Armed Forces as they are promoted.