Due to loopholes in the system, many convicted sex offenders in the military are not registered as sex offenders when they complete their service. A new bill, introduced in Congress by Reps. Jackie Speier (D-CA), Mike Coffman (R-CO), and Pat Meehan (R-PA), would fix that.
The Military Track, Register and Alert Communities Act of 2015 (Military TRAC Act) would create a Department of Defense sex offender registry to which offenders would be required to submit their names. The Military TRAC Act would make that registry available to the public and would make sure information about offenders is available to civilian law enforcement agencies.
“[The public] shouldn’t have to wait for a convicted rapist to re-offend before they get the information they need to keep their children safe,” Rep. Speier said in a press release. “This is a frightening loophole and it must be closed.”
Almost 20 percent of convicted military sex offenders were not officially reported and listed on US sex offender registries, according to Scripps data. This failure by the system makes it easier for offenders to attack civilians. Matthew Carr, for example, was convicted of assaulting seven women while in the US Air Force. After Carr was released he assaulted another woman and avoided punishment for some time even after the victim’s mother was suspicious of Carr – because the mother failed to find him in a sex offender registry.
“Cracking down on sexual assault in the military extends beyond just punishing those who committed the heinous crimes,” Rep. Mike Coffman said. “It must also protect both civilians and soldiers after the assailants leave their respective service. Sexual assault is a serious scourge and we must do all we can to ensure these predators are monitored similar to the way sex offenders are dealt with by civilian authorities to prevent them from striking again.”
While the bill would be significant to protect against those actually convicted of sexual assault in the military, less than 1 percent of all military sexual assaults result in a conviction – and are more than 19,000 assaults reported every year in the military.
Media Resources: RH Reality Check 2/13/2015; Rep. Jackie Speier press release 2/12/2015; Protect Our Defenders 2012; Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response 2012