As an Army leader, what are my responsibilities when a sexual assault occurs in my unit?
Army leaders play a key role in the response to sexual assault in the Army. These leaders include commanders, supervisors, law enforcement personnel, legal and social services, and health-care personnel.
If you are in a position of authority:
Your first priority: care for the victim
- Enforce the Army policy on sexual assault and make sure subordinates enforce it, too.
- Treat each incident seriously by following the proper guidelines. The victim should never be blamed based on past history, nor should it be assumed that the victim instigated the incident.
- Inform each party of the Victim's Rights under AR 27-10 (1 mb).
- Report the allegations to law enforcement for a thorough investigation.
- Keep all information confidential and disclose information only to those who have an official need to know - it's the right of the accuser and the accused.
- Notify the chaplain if the victim wants pastoral counseling or assistance.
- Ensure that the needs of the victim's family are considered.
- Make sure victims are aware of the military and civilian resources that are available to them under the Victim and Witness Assistance Program (VWAP).
- Encourage the victim to get a medical examination, even if the incident occurred prior to the past 72 hours. It is important for the victim to seek medical attention to assess possible injury, sexually transmitted diseases, and pregnancy.
As a commander, you have a responsibility to ensure that victims of sexual assault receive sensitive care and support and are not re-victimized as a result of reporting the incident. You have a range of command options available to help you fulfill your responsibility to protect sexual assault victims. As a commander, you should seek the assistance of your servicing judge advocate.
Your reporting and other responsibilities
- In order to protect sexual assault victims, you have the option of geographically separating the victim and the alleged offender. Commanders should determine whether the victim wants to be transferred to another unit. By considering the victim's preferences and all relevant facts and circumstances of the case, commanders can avoid subjecting the victim to the "double victimization" that is sometimes perceived when a victim is transferred from the unit.
- Military Protective Orders (MPOs), DD Form 2873, referred to as "no contact orders," are also an effective tool for commanders to maintain the safety of the victim.
- Some Army sexual victims report being hesitant to report sexual assaults when they feel they will open themselves up for disciplinary action for related offenses, such as drug or alcohol use, that are related to the assault. As a commander, you have the option to delay action on any victim misconduct related to an assault until after the investigation and prosecution for the assault is complete.
Unit Commanders must implement and support the Army's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program. Commanders must:
- Report all disciplinary action taken against soldiers involved in the assault by using form DA Form 4833 (12 kb), Commander's Report of Disciplinary or Administrative Action.
- Report incidents of sexual assault to the Criminal Investigation Division (CID) per AR 195-1, paragraph 6.
- Support participation by soldiers and Army civilians in sexual assault prevention and awareness training.
- Continually assess the command climate through various methods (e.g., focus groups, surveys, talking with soldiers).