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Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

Anchored by Jake Tapper, The Lead airs at 4 p.m. ET on CNN.

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May 15th, 2013
06:56 PM ET

Troops fear retaliation when reporting sexual assaults

The latest news of sexual assault out of the military packs an extra dose of outrage: the unnamed soldier the Army says stands accused of "pandering, abusive sexual contact, assault and maltreatment of subordinates" was supposed to be dealing with the problem.

It was the second such report this month, following an Air Force lieutenant colonel’s arrest for an assault in a Virginia parking lot located near the Pentagon.

“This is nothing new and that’s what makes it even that much more urgent that we have to do something now,” Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand said Wednesday on “The Lead,” calling for accountability and transparency in the way the military handles these cases.

The New York Democrat told CNN’s Jake Tapper she will introduce legislation on Thursday to combat the problem by changing the way the cases are handled.

“What the victims have said is that they might be able to survive the rape or the assaults but what they have a difficult time doing is surviving how they are treated after they report it,” she said.

She proposes removing the investigation from the chain of command and tasking another officer with tracking down the facts.

Her model will “change who decides whether they go to trial or not so that a victim has hope that he or she can see justice in their cases.”

Some say the allegations need an investigation independent from the military, but Gillibrand says the military judicial system is handling well the cases which it receives, but it is believed many are not reported.

“It is outrageous to be honest that men who are being charged with preventing sexual assault, running these prevention programs, teaching men and women who are serving in the military are actually committing the same offense or are alleged to have committed the same offense is disgraceful,” she said. “We have to do much better by the men and women who serve in our military.”

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