Changes to the Kentucky National Guard’s code of justice have enabled military police to better deal with sexual assault occurring within their ranks, Guard officials told state lawmakers this week.
The reforms were pushed through last year’s General Assembly by Rep. Tanya Pullin, a Democrat who co-chairs the Joint Committee on the Military, Veterans Affairs and Public Protection.
National Guard deputy state judge advocate Col. John Knox Mills told the panel this week that the number of victims’ advocates in his organization has increased to 60, and victims are reporting offenses in greater numbers.
“This increase in cases is not because there have been more sexual assaults, but rather that it reflects a greater awareness and trust by victims in the program and the new criminal code,” Mills said.
The higher level of reporting mirrors a national trend: A 2013 Pentagon study reported a 50 percent increase in reported sexual assaults in the military due to victims being more comfortable with reporting incidents.
Kentucky’s new military code now provides new punishments for rape and sexual harassment, as well, and includes guidance for military police on modern day offenses such as cyber-stalking. It also authorizes stiffer court martial penalties to deter criminal behavior.