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California has just made a major change in the way sexual assault allegations are investigated in the state military department. On Thursday, Gov. Jerry Brown signed a bill that requires sexual assault cases to be investigated by outside civilian law enforcement, not by military commanders.
It provides for no statute of limitations in cases involving sexual assault in California’s military department, which includes 24,000 people. The legislation also requires the department to report sexual assault statistics to the governor and lawmakers each year.
“I thank Governor Brown for signing this important legislation,” said Sen. Alex Padilla, who authored the bill. “Sexual assault is a serious problem throughout our military. While Washington debates how to address this crisis, California leads by example. Victims of sexual assault deserve our support and a respectful and effective justice system.”
This development comes after the Investigative Unit exposed problems with the handling of rape and retaliation in the California National Guard. We spoke with dozens of guard members who describe a breakdown in rape investigations and retaliation for speaking up about being sexually assaulted.
A representative from the California National Guard said state military leaders support the new law and that the guard believes more victims will see the successful prosecution and punishment of perpetrators.
The law goes into effect next year.
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