Senators Argue Against Kirsten Gillibrand's Plan On Military Sexual Assault

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WASHINGTON (AP) — Senate opponents of stripping military commanders of the authority to prosecute serious crimes such as rape and sexual assault say that move could make it worse for victims and undermine the military justice system.

Eleven members of the 26-member Armed Services Committee sent a letter to colleagues Monday rejecting an effort by Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand. The New York Democrat, who has the support of nearly half the Senate, wants to remove commanders from deciding whether serious crimes go to trial.

Her proposal would give that authority to seasoned trial lawyers who have prosecutorial experience and hold the rank of colonel or higher.

The senators said Gillibrand's plan could make it more difficult to achieve plea bargains, which can spare victims greater pain.

The Associated Press obtained the letter.

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