New law promises to crack down on sexual assaults in the militar - WECT TV6-WECT.com:News, weather & sports Wilmington, NC

New law promises to crack down on sexual assaults in the military

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Assault victim says the new law is a step in the right direction, but not enough. Assault victim says the new law is a step in the right direction, but not enough.

WILMINGTON, NC - (WECT/AP) - A new law is cracking down on sexual assaults in the military. The Pentagon is now reporting about 26,000 servicemen and women are sexually assaulted within the military every year.

While vacationing in Hawaii, the President signed off on a new law that hopes to bring that number down. It makes several changes to the way sexual assault cases are handled. One victim from the Wilmington area, says while that's a start, it's not enough.

Elle Helmer Woods says it's been about seven years since she was sexually assaulted while stationed in Washington, DC.  She says the legislation is promising, but more needs to change. "It's a step, but it's a small step," Woods says. "Until the chain of command is entirely removed I don't really see it making a difference, except for maybe a few cases."

She says, right now, commanders have too much power because they can decide whether or not to prosecute an assailant. Woods says even though she reported her assault, and followed all necessary steps, no legal action was taken. She says both that, and the retaliation she felt afterwards, were very frustrating.

"In my case the retaliation was far worse than the rape itself, and that's ultimately why I left the Marine Corps, and when I say it was horrible, it was, every single day ... it was just terrible."

One section of the law, promises to charge people who retaliate against victims for reporting assaults, she says that makes her hopeful, but she still wants to see more changes sooner rather than later.

Copyright 2013 WECT. All rights reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.

 

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