Feb. 19—Maine’s legal professional common says civilian regulation enforcement and prosecutors can do more to talk with the Maine National Guard and army victims of sexual assault.
Legal professional Basic Aaron Frey’s report, submitted final week to the Legislature’s Veterans and Authorized Affairs Committee, outlines how allegations of sexual assault and harassment inside the Guard have been dealt with throughout the five-year interval ending final March. It’s the third evaluate previously 12 months of how these instances are handled.
The report was mandated by a regulation handed final 12 months after feminine troopers complained to lawmakers that the Guard wasn’t strongly imposing its personal insurance policies and there was little exterior oversight.
Lawmakers started contemplating new oversight measures after feminine troopers instructed the Bangor Day by day Information about retaliation and a predatory tradition inside the Guard.
Final 12 months, the Advisory Council on Navy Sexual Trauma — established by govt order — launched a collection of suggestions to enhance how the National Guard responds to sexual assault and harassment complaints. A federal evaluate by the National Guard Bureau discovered that the Maine National Guard’s insurance policies complied with federal rules.
Rep. Morgan Rielly, D-Westbrook, who launched the laws calling for the most recent report, has requested the chairs of the Veterans and Authorized Affairs Committee to maintain a briefing with the legal professional common to publicly talk about its findings.
“It’s completely essential that the legislature continues to assist members of the Maine National Guard and veterans who’ve skilled army sexual trauma together with bettering techniques of accountability and prevention,” Rielly mentioned in an announcement.
EXAMINING THE RECORD
Within the report, Frey detailed the examination of every allegation, whether or not it was adequately and correctly investigated by a regulation enforcement company, whether or not the investigation outcomes have been communicated to a prosecutorial workplace and if that workplace took acceptable motion, and whether or not the outcomes of the investigation and any prosecution have been communicated to Maine National Guard officers.
A lot of the incidents reviewed occurred earlier than vital coverage and programming modifications have been outlined in a March 2022 report from the Maine Adjutant Basic, which mentioned “super efforts” have been being made inside the Guard to practice enlisted personnel and command workers and to improve entry to sufferer assist and providers, Frey wrote.
For its evaluate, Frey’s workplace requested the state’s eight district attorneys and police companies in Maine to present data of all sexual assault and harassment investigations involving Guard members throughout the five-year interval.
Some data described illegal sexual touching, sexual contact and gross sexual assault, in accordance to the report. None included allegations that weapons have been used in opposition to a sufferer.
There have been no complaints reported in three of the prosecutorial districts. Regulation enforcement in different districts mentioned they investigated allegations however didn’t refer them to prosecutors, which is now required, due to a scarcity of proof or a sufferer who did not need to make a report to civilian police.
There are two pending instances involving Guard members within the district that covers Androscoggin, Franklin and Oxford counties, the report mentioned.
The report discovered that Guard officers normally did contact police on behalf of victims, however in some instances not till years after the alleged incidents befell, too late to press costs.
In a number of instances, victims didn’t need to report incidents to civilian authorities or they may not be contacted by police. There have been a number of conditions the place police decided the reported abuse didn’t represent against the law.
Frey famous that communication between prosecutors, regulation enforcement and Guard officers seems to have improved lately.
Frey’s suggestions additionally included more collaborative coaching for sufferer witness advocates, coaching for the Guard on Maine statutes and the legal justice course of, and higher documentation by regulation enforcement of efforts to contact victims to affirm whether or not they selected to take part in legal investigations and to guarantee they’ve details about organizations that help survivors of sexual assault and home violence.