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.