WPCNR WASHINGTON GO ROUND. From the Press Office of New York Senator Kristen Gillibrand. December 21, 2013:
Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York has called for Lt. General Franklin to be relieved from his post for his record of bias toward alleged victims of sexual attacks in the military.
U.S. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand released the following statement Thursday after Stars and Stripes reported that Lt. General Franklin, well known for reversing a guilty verdict in a sexual assault conviction, had again sought to subvert justice for a victim of sexual assault by denying to proceed to a court martial in a sexual assault case and refusing to speak with the alleged victim.
“For months the military has been arguing that Commanders retaining convening authority to prosecute sexual assault is the solution to the vast underreporting of sexual assault crimes in the military. Lt. Franklin is a glaring example of how wrong that is. The men and women of the military deserve to have unbiased, trained military prosecutors reviewing their cases and making decisions based solely on the evidence, including victims testimony. The fact that Lt. Franklin was entrusted with this responsibility after over-turning a guilty verdict in a sexual assault case previously is mind blowing. He should be relieved of his post now – as he should have been then.
“The victims have told us over and over again that the barrier to reporting is the chain of command and high profile reports of Commanders like General Franklin only erodes that broken trust further. Allowing a closed system where Commanders with inherent bias hold all the cards empowers exactly the wrong people. Nowhere in America would we allow a boss to decide if an employee was sexually assaulted or not except the United States military. We owe our service members better.
“Higher level oversight is no substitute for a system that eliminates bias in the process.”
In a statement, Kim Hanks, the victim in the original Aviano Air Base scandal, said, “The actions that Franklin took in my case, and in this most recent one is why in 2012 it is estimated that over 90 percent of victims never report their attacks. Who can blame them?
“When I first reported my assault at Aviano I endured eight months of public humiliation, saw my name dragged through the mud, and many in the chain of command sided with my attacker before, during and after his trial. We need fundamental reform. My case would not have moved forward without the perseverance of the prosecutors. Military prosecutors not commanders should decide to whether to move forward to trial.”