Rep. Jackie Speier (D-Cal.), best known to we military justice wonks as the author of the proposed STOP Act, has introduced H.R. 430, a bill “To amend the Uniform Code of Military Justice to protect new members of the Armed Forces who are undergoing basic training from the sexual advances of the members of the Armed Forces responsible for their instruction.”  The bill is co-sponsored by Rep. Joseph J. Heck (R-Nev.), a Reserve Army doctor.  Unfortunately, the bill’s text isn’t yet available on Thomas.  Its short title is the “Protect Our Military Trainees Act.”

The bill, which was introduced last Friday, has been referred to HASC.

Representative Speier’s website has this statement about the bill.

11 Responses to “Bill to expressly prohibit sexual relations between instructors and servicemembers in basic training”

  1. Bill C says:

    Next up:  A bill that will make larceny a crime. 

  2. Torch says:

    According to today’s AF Times, “Staff Sgt. Donald Davis, who pleaded guilty to having a sexual relationship with a woman who graduated from basic to technical training, was sentenced to a bad conduct discharge, three months’ hard labor and reduction to E-3, said Brent Boller, Lackland spokesman. Davis will not serve any jail time…”  Bad enough that her office didn’t even bother to ask the AF if any such ban already existed, ridiculous they hadn’t even read the charge sheets associated with the ongoing MTI cases. 

  3. Dwight Sullivan says:

    I dissent from my learned colleague Bill’s approach on this.  Congress has already made larceny a crime in the military.  Congress hasn’t made it a crime for a DI to have sex with a recruit.  Rather, the military has taken tools that Congress provided to craft a prohibition.  But the Constitution provided Congress with the authority and responsibility to make rules for the land and naval forces.  If Congress cares about something — and they should care about stamping out sex between DIs and recruits — then it’s appropriate to pass a stand-alone UCMJ article prohibiting it, rather than relying on someone else promulgating an order, the President adopting a specific offense under Article 134 in Pt. IV of the MCM, or the military using the all-purpose “dereliction” statute.  It’s appropriate for Congress to send a message that this is something that they, as representatives of all Americans, really care about and prohibit. 

    Of course, I write that without having seen the text of the legislation itself, which may present other problems.  But I disagree with any notion that Congress shouldn’t act to criminalize something just because that something could be charged as an orders violation, dereliction, or general disorder.

  4. k "papa panda sexy pants" fischer says:

    All sexual advances by a training instructor toward a trainee are indefensible because consent is impossible in this power dynamic. Trainees are taught from day one that nothing an MTI says ends with a question mark – recruits must obey every order given and every task demanded,” said Speier. 
     
    Someone should inform Congresswoman Speier that consent also is impossible in the power dynamic between BG “Papa Panda Sexy Pants” Sinclair and the apparently toothless female Captain who is accusing him of forcible sodomy, or Major Thompson, the Naval Academy professor who somehow forced two mids to walk to his house after the mids were drinking, so he could force them to play strip poker, then have a menage with him.  
     
    I know, I know, those females are officers and Congresswoman Speier is attempting to protect trainees who are straight out of high school.  But, as Bill keenly pointed out indirectly, both consensual and nonconsensual sex by a cadre member with a trainee are already crimes.
     
     

  5. Bill C says:

    Brother Dwight:  My prior sarcasm aside, I don’t disagree with your analysis.  The devil, of course, will be in the details.  I am always leery when Congress promulgates new law under the UCMJ.  Last time didn’t go so well.

  6. Zachary Spilman says:

    The text should eventually show up on GovTrack at this link and on Thomas at this link.

  7. stewie says:

    “Speier began her line of questioning by describing the young trainees she met at the base last fall. “They were 17, 18, 19 years of age. They were young, they were naïve, and they were earnest,” she said before explaining that she has a daughter the same age as the trainees. “My daughter would no more have the ability to say no to an MTI than one of these trainees who are taught, ‘you do everything that the training instructor tells you.’”
     
    I concur, naivete is at issue here, but I’m not sure those 17-19 year-old recruits are the only ones who suffer from it if one believes they are all pure innocents corrupted by evil, twisted cadre.

  8. John Harwood says:

    I totally agree with Mr Sullivan – in general, Congress makes laws and the President enforces them.  Congress has seen fit to legislate such arcane UCMJ prohibitions as dueling and forcing a safeguard.  Certainly it’s within their bailiwick to legislate on the protection of recruits from TIs.  This is a subject that all of the services have recongnized and prohitited through regulation – Congress seems to simply be solidifying those protections.
    Of course, given Congress’s recent forays in drafting articles for the UCMJ, this could turn into a total cluster.

  9. Mike "No Man" Navarre says:

    I disagree with my learned colleagues that it is COngress’ responsibility to define the elements of crimes in the land and naval forces.  The continued vitality of the aggravating factors in RCM 1004(c) should leave no doubt as to that.

  10. k fischer says:

    I have been educated and now appreciate the difference between a regulation prohibiting conduct and the US Code prohibiting conduct. This bill is bipartisan and it should pass because nobody should want to vote against protecting our military trainees.   
     
    I just wish the sponsor of the bill would recognize that consent is not impossible between a trainee and trainer.  Instead, she should say that the “distinction between consensual and non-consensual activity is significantly blurred in the training environment requiring a bright line prohibition of any relationships under  the UCMJ, so as legislators we can say we’ve done everything we can to prevent these difficult cases like those convened at Lackland AFB.”  Anybody venture to guess whether it will lead to slippery slope with the codification of the prohibition between officer and enlisted or relationships within the chain of command?

  11. Mike "No Man" Navarre says:

    KF–Never happen on officer enlisted relationships.  If my friend’s AF units are the norm, the entire AF officer corps would have to be court-martialed if overly familiar officer-enlisted relationships were prohibited by the UCMJ.