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Victims' Rights

1.  Equal Protection of the Laws, as guaranteed by the Constitution of the United States (Fourteenth and Fifth Amendments).  

     The Department of Justice's de facto policy of non-prosecution of juvenile-on-juvenile sexual assault on military installations with exclusive federal jurisdiction results in prosecution rates of 0% at many locations.  The Civil Rights Division of the Department of Justice previously admonished a state prosecutor's office that "failure to take action, on a discriminatory basis, can constitute unlawful discrimination."  Victims of juvenile-on-juvenile sexual assault on military installations have the right to equal prosecution protection by the federal government in the same manner as if they were victims of adult-on-juvenile crime, or if the crime happened not on the military installation but in the surrounding community.  

2.  The Crime Victims' Rights Act (CVRA).

     One of many listed rights in the CVRA is “[t]he reasonable right to confer with the attorney for the Government in the case.” Unfortunately, the Department of Justice, which oversees Assistant U.S. Attorneys responsible for prosecuting crime on land areas that include military installations, takes the position that a crime victim does not gain any rights unless and until criminal charges are filed.  The result is that federal prosecutors who routinely decline juvenile-on-juvenile sexual assault cases also refuse to speak to victims to explain why their case will not be prosecuted.  Contrary to this position, most federal courts conclude that victims do have CVRA rights prior to the formal filing of charges.  Senator Jon Kyl, one of the CVRA's congressional sponsors, previously stated, “[w]hen Congress enacted the CVRA, it intended to protect crime victims throughout the criminal justice process—from the investigative phases to the final conclusion of a case.”  Thus, victims of juvenile-on-juvenile sexual assault on military installations, or their parents or guardians,  should demand to speak with the prosecutor soon after making statements to a law enforcement agency; they should stubbornly assert their rights to be heard and play a role in the process.   

3.  The right to be warned about known dangers.

     As a landowner, the Department of Defense (DoD) has a duty of reasonable care to entrants on its land with regard to dangerous conditions. The de facto policy of non-prosecution of juvenile crime on its military installations with exclusive jurisdiction is a dangerous condition unknown to the vast majority of servicemembers and their families, who are authorized to reside in installation housing by virtue of uniformed service, but known and acknowledged by the DoD since at least 1975.  Because the DoD does not warn residents of the de facto policy of non- prosecution of juvenile crime, it is a breach of its duty of reasonable care.  Families which receive a proper warning could avoid the harm of non- prosecution of juvenile-on-juvenile sexual assault by choosing not to live on or have their children utilize services provided by the military installation.  In the case of a 10-year-old boy sexually assaulted by his older step-brother at Fort Hood, which federal prosecutors declined to take action on, the mother of the child victim lamented:“My husband has deployed 3 times to Iraq, been shot at, almost blown up, and has spent years far from his wife and children. We moved to on-post housing thinking that this was the safest place to raise our family. Never could we have imagined that a crime like this could be committed against one of our children and the only one being protected would be the perpetrator . . . Had I known this was the case I never would have moved on post.”  



Enforcing Rights

As a parent of a child victimized by juvenile-on-juvenile sexual assault on a military installation with exclusive federal jurisdiction , ensuring that the rights of your child are enforced is, unfortunately, an uphill battle.  Federal prosecutors are not elected officials and do not feel beholden to the military community; commanders of military installations are focused on their assigned military missions; and military attorneys cannot sue the government on your behalf.  Do not give up hope!  Your child deserves justice and to be treated with dignity and respect.  Consider the services of a victims' rights attorney or bringing media attention to your plight, as parents at Fort Lewis and Fort Hood have done in the past.     


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