In a groundbreaking legal decision, the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that military rape cases have no statute of limitations. The Court ruled that military personnel who were accused of a crime between 1986 and 2006 could be charged and tried for their crimes. This decision overrides the military appeals court, which held that there was a five-year statute of limitations on rape.
Justice Alito wrote in his decision that “the government argues that a rape committed by a service member may cause special damage by critically undermining unit cohesion and discipline and that, in some circumstances, the crime may have serious international implications. That also appears to have been the view of Congress and the executive.” The government’s argument, that rape is an “egregious and destructive crime,” seems to be affirmed by the Court.
This decision has the potential for stunning change in the military. The SHARP – sexual harassment and response program – initiative was developed and widely pushed after 2006. While sexual assault now is under reported in the military, the crime was particularly pernicious prior to that time. Now, male and female survivors of military sexual trauma have a chance at justice.