Rep. Tulsi Gabbard Cosponsors Bill To Prevent Convicted Rapists in the Military From Going Free Due to Technicality
May 1, 2019
Washington, DC—This week, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard (HI-02) cosponsored Harmony’s Law—a bill that would help prevent those convicted and found guilty of rape in the military from being freed from jail on a misconstrued technicality due to the U.S. v. Mangahas ruling. Rep. Brian Mast (FL-18) introduced the bill on Monday.
The bill is named after Harmony Allen who was raped during her third month in the Air Force by her instructor. Despite being found guilty and sentenced to jail time, he was subsequently freed due to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces misinterpreting the Congressionally-mandated statute of limitations.
“It is a travesty that convicted rapists have gone free based on a technicality. The man who raped Harmony, and others convicted of this heinous crime, must be held accountable,” said Rep. Tulsi Gabbard. “The bill gets rid of this technical loophole and affirms Congressional intent previously stated that such crimes have no statute of limitations. Congress must pass this legislation to help ensure others will not suffer the injustice to which Harmony has been subjected. It will also send a clear message to perpetrators of these crimes that they have no place serving in our military and they cannot wait out the clock. Time will never be on their side.”
The Congresswoman met with Harmony today to thank her for her courage and discuss the new legislation.
“I still bear the scars of what he did to me 16 years ago, and I have endured immense pain and suffering for justice, but my rapist is now free because of this absurd ruling that has now set a precedent that does not follow the intent of Congress,” said Harmony Allen. “Knowing my rapist has been out there for the past 16 years has haunted me. The fact that he’s been able to stay in the military that I loved so dearly, get promoted and possibly have the chance to hurt others horrifies me. What’s worse is that allowing the rapists in the military to use this unlawful technicality will not only allow my rapist to go free, but other rapists who committed rapes for nearly two decades could avoid being held accountable and go free. They will be given a clean slate, receive medical benefits, back pay, and retirement even though they were rightfully convicted. This is not justice and should not be allowed.”
Background: The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces ruled in U.S. v. Mangahas that the statute of limitations for sexual assaults that occurred before 2006 is five years. In doing so, the Court incorrectly overruled the military’s standard in place from 1986 to 2006 that rape could “be tried and punished at any time without limitation” and misinterpreted the Congressional intent of the 2006 NDAA by failing to apply it to cases that occurred prior to 2006.
Harmony’s Law will help hold these convicted criminals accountable and make sure justice is served for victims by authorizing the House Office of General Counsel to represent the interests of Congress in any cases related to the Mangahas decision, expressing the intent of Congress that the passage of time should not bar the prosecution of rape or sexual assault under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice, and eliminating statutes of limitations for sexual offenses in the military against children.
Since her first term in Congress, Rep. Tulsi Gabbard has been outspoken in her support for victims of military sexual assault as well as led efforts to secure justice, address the trauma they face, and ensure that the Department of Veterans Affairs is equipped to address their needs.
About Rep. Tulsi Gabbard: Congresswoman Tulsi Gabbard is serving her fourth term in the United States House representing Hawaii’s Second District, and serves on the House Armed Services and Financial Services Committees. She previously served on the House Foreign Affairs Committee and Homeland Security Committee. She was elected to the Honolulu City Council in 2010, and prior to that at age 21, was elected to the Hawaiʻi State Legislature in 2002, becoming the youngest person ever elected in the state. Tulsi Gabbard has served in the Hawaiʻi Army National Guard for 16 years, is a veteran of two Middle East deployments, and continues to serve as a Major. Learn more about Rep. Tulsi Gabbard...
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