Stevens, bipartisan lawmakers file brief against ‘technicality’ that can free military rapists

    Sexual assault evidence kit | U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Rebecca Linder, Wikimedia Commons

    There is no statute of limitations for rape in the military, but advocates say a misconstrued legal technicality allows for hundreds of convicted rapists walk free. 

    The U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case reviewing this technicality and U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens (D-Rochester Hills) filed an amicus curiae brief on Monday to the Supreme Court to uphold Congress’ decades-long decision to dismiss any statute of limitations for victims to get justice.

    U.S. Rep. Haley Stevens | Ken Coleman

    The case, to be heard in April, involves Harmony Allen, an Air Force veteran who was raped by her instructor. Though her rapist was found guilty, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces applied a statute of limitations and he were released from jail.

    To protect people like Allen, Stevens introduced Harmony’s Law in April 2019  a bipartisan bill seeking to protect all rape victims and allow them to hold their attackers accountable. The bill would clarify the law already in place and stop misinterpretation.

    Stevens said in a press release that Allen “embodies the very best that our armed services have to offer,” and she and everyone in the armed forces deserves justice.

    The pain of her rape follows her today, Allen said in April. She said her attacker has been able to remain in the military and receive promotion, putting him in a position to hurt more people.

    “What’s worse is that allowing the rapists in the military to use this unlawful technicality will not only allow my rapist to go free, but other rapists who committed rapes for nearly two decades could avoid being held accountable and go free,” Allen said. “They will be given a clean slate, receive medical benefits, back pay, and retirement even though they were rightfully convicted.  This is not justice and should not be allowed.”

    U.S. Supreme Court | Susan J. Demas

    Other representatives on the amicus brief include:

    U.S. Reps. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.), Denny Heck (D-Wash.), Kendra Horn (D-Okla.), Gus Bilirakis (R-Fla.), Charlie Crist (D-Fla.), Brian Mast (R-Fla.), Ted Yoho (R-Fla.),  Gil Cisneros (D-Calf.), , Ann McLane Kuster (D-N.H.), Ted Deutch (D-Fla.), Jim Baird (R-Ind.) and Jackie Speier (D-Calif.).

    Anna Liz Nichols
    Anna Liz Nichols is a former Michigan Advance intern. She is a Michigan State University graduate who has reported for several publications, including MLive and Michigan State University’s award-winning student paper, the State News, where she covered the many tendrils of the Larry Nassar sexual abuse scandal.