by Richard Lardner
Apr 18, 2016
WASHINGTON -- The Pentagon misled Congress with inaccurate and vague information about sexual assault cases that portrayed civilian law enforcement officials as less willing than military commanders to punish sex offenders, an Associated Press investigation found.
Local district attorneys and police forces failed to act against U.S. service members who were subsequently prosecuted in military courts for sex crimes, according to internal government records that summarized the outcomes of dozens of cases. But in a number of cases, the steps taken by civilian authorities were described incorrectly or omitted. Other case descriptions were too imprecise to be verified.Adm. James "Sandy" Winnefeld
There also is nothing in the records that supports the primary reason the Pentagon told Congress about the cases in the first place: To show top military brass as hard-nosed crime fighters who insisted on taking the cases to trial.
The records were obtained through the Freedom of Information Act by the advocacy group Protect Our Defenders, which provided the documents exclusively to AP. Protect Our Defenders is scheduled to release a report Monday that criticizes the Pentagon's use of the cases to undermine support for Senate legislation that would mandate a major change in the way the military handles sexual assault allegations.
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