WENY News - DOD issues new sexual assault in military report, New York Senat

DOD issues new sexual assault in military report, New York Senator fires back

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WASHINGTON, D.C. (WENY) -- Shalonda Jones is a woman on a mission. She wants to make sure her fellow service members’ enemy isn’t within their own ranks. 

"He would grab my behind in front of people,” Jones told us in 2016, when she first shared her story.

Now the man who she says assaulted her, a former mentor, is no longer allowed to serve. But the battle for justice led her to leave as well.

“This is happening and it’s destroying lives and people,” Jones added.

The military received nearly 7,000 reports of sexual assault involving service members this past year. That’s a rise the Department of Defense said is a good thing because people are reporting it.

But in a survey of 371 service members, 40% said they were retaliated against for reporting.

New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand believes that’s because the power to prosecute lies with military commanders.

She said, “I think the decision making needs to be taken out of the chain of command, given to trained military prosecutors to professionalize the decision making.”

While Gillibrand pushes Congress to vote on her legislation she says will improve the system, the DOD says they have no intention of taking the decision out of the chain of command.

The DOD told us a Congressionally appointed panel that studied this issue in depth concluded that taking the military commanders out of the process would not improve outcomes.

Jones just wants victims voices to be heard.

“They’re ignoring us, and they shouldn’t,” Jones added.

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