Air Force strengthens policy to kick out sexual assaulters

There are now fewer exceptions for an airman or guardian to stay in the service after an assault conviction.

The Department of the Air Force is strengthening its process for discharging airmen and guardians who commit sexual assault, as the service continues to try to banish sex crimes from its ranks.

The new policy states that service members who commit sexual assault will be subject to immediate initiation of discharge procedures. Only in very few circumstances can an airman or guardian be considered for an exception.

Those exceptions are what DAF is updating; under previous policy there were more situations where assaulters would have an opportunity to stay in the service.

Exceptions are now strengthened for and bar exceptions when an airman or guardian assaults a child or if that person has a prior assault or harassment charge.

“Sexual assault is incompatible with our core values, the Guardian Ideal, and military service. These revisions will significantly improve our ability to discharge those unworthy of calling themselves airmen and guardians,” said Air Force Undersecretary Gina Ortiz Jones. “Our policies must set clear expectations and consequences for the force. Everything we do, and everything we say communicates the value that we place, or do not place, on one’s service.”

There are also factors that DAF will no longer consider when making an exception. Those include personal, family or financial circumstances, good military character and medical or mental health condition.

What DAF will still consider, according to the new separation guidance, is if the member’s continued presence is consistence with “the interest of DAF in maintaining proper disciple, good order, leadership, morale and a culture of respect for the safety, dignity and personal boundaries of all service members.”

The change adds mission-focused criteria to the exception consideration.

“These new objective criteria reflect our commitment to justice for sexual assault survivors and accountability of offenders,” added Secretary of the Air Force Frank Kendall. “We are determined to maintain a culture of respect for the safety, dignity and personal boundaries of every airman, guardian and civil servant.”

DAF and the Defense Department are putting a large emphasis on combating sexual assault. DAF is asking Congress for increased funds in 2023 to strengthen sexual assault and integrated violence prevention programs.

Nearly a year ago, DoD announced it was changing policy to address issues with its sexual assault and prosecution process.

DoD is in the process of removing sex crimes and related crimes like domestic and child abuse from the military’s oversight and giving them to independent civilian agencies. DoD added sexual harassment as an offense in the Uniform Code of Military Justice and is creating offices in each military department to handle the prosecution of special crimes with appropriate legal oversight and guidance from the Pentagon.


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