Darts and Laurels

December 4, 2013  

Sex-assault double standard

AFJ_dartDART to Army Secretary John McHugh for creating a corrosive double standard.

Faced with an angry Congress demanding that military leaders curb the epidemic of sex assaults in the ranks, McHugh has ordered that all soldiers with a record of sexual assault be discharged immediately. That’s not the bad part; it’s about time the Army got tough on the sex assault scourge. Giving the boot to soldiers who have been convicted of sexual assault just makes sense — and raises the question why anyone guilty of such criminal behavior was allowed to continue wearing the Army uniform.

But McHugh’s order treats enlisted soldiers and officers differently, requiring automatic discharges for the former while the latter will be reviewed on a case-by-case basis. That part of the order has elicited howls of outrage from the enlisted ranks, and rightly so. There are any number of areas in which special treatment for officers can be defended. Being a soldier convicted of sex assault isn’t one of them.

A version of this editorial appeared first in Army Times, a sister publication of Army Times.


Poorly handled, certainly. But your dart fails to recognize that administrative separation for cause is authorized only for enlisted persons. If an officer is convicted of an Article 120 violation, but the sentence doesn't include a DD or BCD, there is (as far as I know) no obvious administrative recourse -- let alone an automatic one.

In my lay opinion, the other problem with the SecArmy ukase is that the term "sexual assault" is so poorly defined, and so sloppily used by the media,  that it can cover anything from an advance that turns out to be unwelcome, through forcible rape. It's no good saying that it's like pornography, you know it when you see it. The much narrower UCMJ definitions need to be used.


@polkovnik Agree totally.  Punishment for enlisted and officer are regulated differently and not equivalent to each other.  Of course if there is no conviction, then either can stay even though there just may not have been enough evidence to convict even though an act may have indeed been committed.