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Statistics

A search of the Federal Judicial Center’s integrated criminal database reveals that U.S. Attorneys whose offices oversee federal prosecutions at nineteen Army installations with primarily exclusive jurisdiction initiated no more than five total juvenile delinquency proceedings against juvenile sexual assault offenders from 2004 to 2015.  During this same time period,   

the Army’s Criminal Investigation Command (CID), responsible for investigating felony-level crime, reports that there were 45,401 incidents of serious crime committed by juveniles, including 6,175 incidents of juvenile-on-juvenile crime.  

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Then-Lieutenant Colonel William Suter surveyed the field and authored his 1974 Juvenile Delinquency Statistical Abstract. He received responses from seventeen Army installations with exclusive jurisdiction for which there was not a single federal juvenile delinquency prosecution despite 1,552 reports of juvenile crimes at those locations for the year. While certainly not all of those reported incidents were felonies, or juvenile-on-juvenile sexual assaults, then-LTC Suter did note that “numerous staff judge advocates have great difficulty in convincing local U.S. Attorneys to assume jurisdiction of serious juvenile cases arising on installations.”

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In 2015, Major Emily Roman duplicated LTC Suter’s survey, albeit on a smaller scale. She received responses from ten Army installations with exclusive jurisdiction for which there was not a single federal juvenile delinquency prosecution despite 288 reports of juvenile crimes for the year

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A memo from Fort Hood, Texas, revealed thirty-nine cases of reported juvenile-on-juvenile sexual assault from 2006 to 2012, without a single federal juvenile delinquency prosecution.

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The Navy and Marine Corps reported 126 cases of juvenile-on-juvenile sexual assault on Navy and Marine Corps installations involving offenders under the age of sixteen years from 2012 to 2015, but anecdotal evidence indicates no routine federal prosecutions at any installation.

Sample Cases

A five-year-old girl was sexually assaulted by a 16-year-old juvenile male in 2001 on Fort Hood, Texas. Army investigators gathered evidence and referred the case to federal prosecutors. Four years later, in 2005, a juvenile delinquency proceeding still had not been initiated, causing an exasperated Army investigator to write directly to the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Waco: “(T)his office has contacted various appointed (prosecutors) to determine what action, if any, was going to be pursued . . . As of this date, no prosecution was ever initiated.”

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A mother walked in on her 13-year-old stepson molesting her 10-year-old biological son in 2010 on Fort Hood, Texas. She learned that the abuse had been occurring since her young son was 7-years-old. She immediately reported the sexual assault to Army law enforcement personnel, who investigated and obtained a confession from the juvenile offender. Despite the mother expressing a strong desire to prosecute him, a federal prosecutor at the U.S. Attorney’s Office in Waco declined to prosecute the case three months later without meeting the victim or his mother and without providing a reason for taking no action. Today, because he had no record of juvenile delinquency as a sex offender, the juvenile offender serves as a Lance Corporal in the United States Marine Corps.

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At Fort Campbell, Kentucky, a 16-year-old sexually assaulted a 5-year-old female family member numerous times. The case was investigated and a videotaped confession to the crime by the juvenile offender was obtained. The case was forwarded to federal prosecutors in 2012, but was declined for prosecution.

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On an Air Force base in the southern United States, a sixteen-year-old male juvenile sexually assaulted three female girls fourteen to sixteen years of age in a high school during or shortly after school hours. One victim protested and physically resisted; another victim fought back. The juvenile offender admitted to one of the sexual assaults. Despite being faced with a serial juvenile-on-juvenile sexual offender, federal prosecutors declined to take any action. There was no coordination with the victims or parents over the decision not to prosecute. Authorities merely barred the juvenile offender from entering onto the military installation, so he began attending a different high school in the local community.

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On Fort Belvoir, Virginia, a sixteen-year-old girl was the victim of a physical assault and attempted rape at the hands of a sixteen-year-old male juvenile in her family’s living quarters in 2016. Despite cooperating with Army investigators, who collected DNA evidence and overheard the juvenile offender confess to the attack in a pretext phone call that was emotionally difficult for the victim, federal prosecutors took no action. The family requested to meet with the U.S. Attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia to understand why the case, which law enforcement indicated was strong, was not prosecuted. The U.S. Attorney never responded and the Assistant U.S. Attorney responsible for declining the case refused to meet with the family.

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