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Shaheen Discusses Military Sexual Assault Laws With Civilian Experts And Military Personnel

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Emily Corwin
/
NHPR

U.S. Senator Jeanne Shaheen came to UNH on Monday to ask University researchers and local law enforcement what the US Armed Forces Committee can learn about sexual assault from the civilian community. She says she’s hoping the information will help inform her colleagues as they shape sexual assault policies in the 2014 Military Defense Authorization Act.

I think we will get a good bill past.

But, Shaheen says, the question is whether the committee will require that sex crimes be investigated by non-military prosecutors. 

I support that but obviously there’s disagreement about that.

During the event, Paul Dean, UNH’s chief of police, urged Shaheen to make sure that the Defense Act does require non-military investigation of sex crimes. He says it works for UNH Campus Police, who leave sexual assault to Stafford county law enforcement. 

UNH research psychologist Vicki Baynard says there's one way the military could help civilians fight sex crimes: by documenting the effectiveness of the violence prevention programs they enact. She says presently, civilian researchers struggle to find substantive data sets.

There’s a lot of potential with the military to really be able to answer these questions for us.

The Senator left UNH with a page of suggestions, including that programs treat all personnel as neither potential victims, nor potential offenders, but as potential witnesses: regardless of sex or rank.  

Correction: An earlier version of this story replaced "Stafford County" with "Stratham County."

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