Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin, whose previous decision to overturn a sexual assault conviction sparked a national debate over the military justice system, has been removed from another sexual assault case after refusing to prosecute it.
Franklin did not consult with the victim, an Air Force staff sergeant, despite her requests, according to reports. This is same behavior he was criticized for when he overturned charges against fighter pilot Lt. Col. James Wilkerson in February.
“The fact that Lt. Franklin was entrusted with this responsibility after overturning a guilty verdict in a sexual assault case previously is mind-blowing,” said Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand (D-NY). “He should be relieved of his post now—as he should have been then.”
Gillibrand has led the charge in the U.S. Senate to protect victims of military sexual assault, and her Military Justice Improvement Act is slated for a stand-alone vote next year after being shut out of the 2014 defense bill.
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Congress is poised to pass reforms in the defense bill that would have prevented Franklin’s first scandal, but not the latest one. Military commanders will be stripped of their power to overturn jury verdicts but will still decide whether to prosecute a case in the first place. Victims’ advocates say that commanders with no legal training should not be making these decisions.
“The actions that Franklin took in my case, and in this most recent one, is why in 2012 it is estimated that over 90 percent of victims never report their attacks,” said Kim Hanks, the victim in the Wilkerson case.
After top Air Force officials said the case Franklin threw out should be re-investigated due to irregularities,
a new hearing was scheduled for January 8.