May 10, 2013

Collins, Pingree join urgent talks on military rape

White House officials are also at the meeting, called to explore solutions to the growing problem.

By Kevin Miller
Staff Writer

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Pingree is married to S. Donald Sussman, majority share owner of the Portland Press Herald.

Collins has successfully pushed for stronger sexual-assault prevention and response training programs in the armed services. She was an original sponsor of a measure, now law, that requires the armed services to offer sexual assault victims access to confidential advocates, to lawyers and to expedited transfers away from the accused attackers.

Several scandals have helped draw the public's and Congress' attention to the issue in recent months.

More than 30 Air Force instructors are accused of sexually abusing trainees at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.

Decisions of high-ranking officers to overturn military convictions for sexual abuse have sparked further outrage and prompted cries to overhaul the military's judicial handling of such cases.

And just this week, the man in charge of the Air Force's sexual assault prevention program was arrested and accused of groping a woman.

The award-winning documentary "The Invisible War," in which Pingree appeared, also has helped raise public awareness.

Two lawmakers who were at Thursday's meeting -- Reps. Niki Tsongas, D-Mass., and Mike Turner, R-Ohio -- are proposing to strip officers of the authority to change or dismiss court-martial convictions in major cases, such as sexual assault. Their bill would also require that an individual found guilty of rape, sexual assault, forcible sodomy or an attempt to commit any of those offenses be dismissed or dishonorably discharged, The Associated Press reported. 

Kevin Miller can be contacted at 317-6256 or at:

Twitter: @KevinMillerDC


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