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Introduced Version House Concurrent Resolution 155 History

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HOUSE CONCURRENT RESOLUTION NO. 155

(By Delegates Fleischauer, Arvon, Border, Campbell, Fluharty, Guthrie,

            Hartman, Kessinger, Longstreth, Marcum, Moore, Pushkin, Rowan, Sobonya

                                                                 and Sponaugle)

 

Requesting the Joint Committee on Government and Finance to study the reporting, investigation and prosecution of sexual assault cases in the West Virginia National Guard, and determine the need, if any, to adopt investigative procedures independent of the military justice system.

            Whereas, The West Virginia National Guard serves with great distinction and honor, both on the home front and during conflicts abroad; and

            WHEREAS, More than 200,000 women are on active duty within the military forces of the United States; women comprise eighteen percent of reservists and National Guard troops and nineteen percent of National Guard officers are women; and

            Whereas, In 2014, the National Guard reported 19,000 incidents of unwanted sexual contact among its members; and

            Whereas, Sixty-eight percent of service members who report incidents of sexual assault experience retaliation, among other consequences; and

            Whereas, One in five female service members confirm being sexually assaulted, and fifty percent of those victims did not report the assault, fearing lack of action by commanding officers; and

            Whereas, All military personnel deserve protection from sexual assault and other criminal conduct to ensure their continued service; and

            Whereas, Reports of sexual assault are often handled by an internal system of justice within the National Guard, resulting in many cases being inappropriately handled, and necessitating further action at the state and national levels; and

            Whereas, Although under consideration, Congress has failed to resolve the issue, thus, states have begun to implement legislation; and

            Whereas, The West Virginia National Guard has an internal reporting and investigative process for sexual assault cases; and

            Whereas, Other states, such as California, have enacted laws to remove the investigation and prosecution of sexual assault cases from the military chain of command to local law enforcement, thus ensuring no conflict of interest; and

            Whereas, It is the intent of the Legislature to continue to recognize and honor those who serve, and to also provide them with a respectful and fair means of justice; and

            Whereas, It is specifically the intent of the Legislature to ensure that laws and policies are reviewed and revised to guarantee justice to, and ensure that those in the West Virginia National Guard who report crimes do not suffer retaliation; and

            Whereas, The Legislature is desirous of ensuring that all members of the West Virginia National Guard are treated in a just and fair manner with the understanding that, in cases of sexual assault, swift, proper and independent investigations will be undertaken to protect victims and that proper punishment will be imposed against the perpetrators of such crimes; therefore, be it

            Resolved by the Legislature of West Virginia:

            That the Joint Committee on Government and Finance is hereby requested to study the issue of reporting, investigation and prosecution of sexual assault cases in the West Virginia National Guard, and to recognize the value, sacrifice and contributions of its members; and, be it

            Further Resolved, That the Clerk of the House of Delegates forward a certified copy of this resolution to the Department of Veterans Affairs and to the West Virginia National Guard; and, be it

            Further Resolved, That the Joint Committee on Government and Finance report to the regular session of the Legislature, 2016, on its findings, conclusions and recommendations, together with drafts of any legislation necessary to effectuate its recommendations; and, be it

            Further Resolved, That the expenses necessary to conduct this study, to prepare a report and to draft necessary legislation be paid from legislative appropriations to the Joint Committee on Government and Finance.

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