DOD sexual assault confidentiality policy explained

| April 25, 2014 | 0 Comments


Col. Mark Jackson
Director, Emergency Services
U.S. Army Garrison-Hawaii, and
Commander, 8th Military Police Brigade,
8th Theater Sustainment Command

In observance of Sexual Assault Awareness Month, the Directorate of Emergency Services would like to highlight the Department of Defense’s Confidentiality Policy with regards to sexual assaults.

The policy provides victims with two options for reporting sexual assaults: restricted reporting and unrestricted reporting.

While DES encourages victims to file unrestricted reports, we understand some victims may not want their chain of command or law enforcement involved in their situation. Ultimately, our priority is ensuring all victims are protected and cared for.

Victims who choose the option of filing a restricted report are eligible to receive medical care and counseling, as well as advocacy services from a certified Sexual Harassment/Assault Response Prevention (SHARP) Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) or Victim Advocate (VA). These individuals do not notify the victim’s chain of command or law enforcement agencies, thus preventing the initiation of a law enforcement investigation.

Though the SARC/VA reports the general nature and location of the incident (for example, “sexual assault on post in housing”) to the senior commander, they withhold the identities of the victim and alleged subject, as well as details that could lead to that information (for example, the exact address of a residence).

Following a restricted report, victims can still obtain legal assistance through a Special Victim Counsel (SVC). Victims can also change their restricted report to an unrestricted report at any time.

By using the restricted reporting option, victims control the release of their personal information to investigating agencies while still getting the medical treatment, legal advice, victim assistance, care and counseling they deserve.

Currently, the restricted reporting option is available only to service members and military dependents above the age of 18 who are eligible for treatment in the military health care system. If the perpetrator is the spouse or intimate partner of the victim, restricted and unrestricted reporting options are available through

Family Advocacy Program (FAP) victim advocates.

The FAP Child Advocacy Program is also available to provide services to non-offending parents of military dependents under the age of 18 who are victims of sexual assault, although no restricted reporting option is available when a child is a victim.

We remind readers that when a restricted report is filed, the following limitations apply:

•The assailant remains unpunished, free to potentially target others in the community.

•Victims cannot put in a request for a military protective order or a no-contact order against the assailant.

•Victims are ineligible for an expedited transfer.

When a sexual assault is reported to the chain of command or to law enforcement, an unrestricted report is initiated. In addition to an official investigation, the victim is eligible to receive advocacy services, medical treatment, counseling and protective orders. Active duty service members can request an expedited transfer.

We advise victims to follow the below steps to assist with the investigation and ensure law enforcement personnel gather all the available evidence:

•Seek medical care, as soon as possible, and ask the health care provider to conduct a sexual assault forensic examination. Request this exam even if you intend to file a restricted report, to ensure evidence collection in the event you choose to file an unrestricted report later.

•If you believe you may have been drugged, request a urine sample.

•Do not attempt to clean the crime scene. This preserves evidence.

•Avoid bathing, washing your hands, eating, drinking or brushing your teeth.

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Category: News, Police Call, SHARP, Standing Columns

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