Pentagon Updates Policy on Sexual Assault

The Defense Department updated its policy on sexual assault prevention and response to improve the safety of sexual assault victims, standardize victim assistance services, and enhance prevention efforts. “When a victim tells us that they have been sexually assaulted, we will believe them,” said Army Maj. Gen. Gary Patton, director of the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, in a March 29 release. “We will protect their privacy. They will be able to have help and care because we understand the nature of this crime and we want them to come forward to get help,” he added. The updated policy also expedites transfers for victims, establishes a crisis-intervention hotline, and requires additional training and uniform standards for caregivers, states the release. In related news, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel on Tuesday issued a message to all DOD personnel on sexual assault awareness and prevention. “Together, we must work every day to instill a climate that does not tolerate or ignore sexist behavior, sexual harassment, or sexual assault,” stated Hagel. “These have no place in the United States military and violate everything we stand for and the values we defend,” he added. (See also Under Fire.)