Sen. Murray working to stem tide of military sexual assault

Sen. Murray working to stem tide of military sexual assault »Play Video
U.S. Sen. Patty Murray, D-Wash..
JOINT BASE LEWIS-McCHORD, Wash. -- In the wake of a recent sexual assault at the Pentagon, Washington Sen. Patty Murray has introduced a bill to crack down on similar cases in the military.

Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski, who's in charge of the Air Force's Sexual Assault and Prevention Response team, is accused of drunkenly groping a woman at the Pentagon.

The military recently released it sexual assault numbers for 2012, and nobody is happy with what they show. Last year there were 3,400 reported rapes, which is up 8 percent from the previous year.

While those numbers are staggering, military experts say they may just be the tip of the iceberg.They believe some 22,600 sexual assaults went unreported.

On Tuesday, Murray introduced legislation meant to combat those assaults. She said members of the military sacrifice enough already.

Murray's legislation would establish a new sexual assault advocate program to give victims legal assistance. It would also enhance the responsibility and authority of the Department of Defense's Sexual Assault Prevention and Response office and push cases to court martial.

The bill was introduced in the U.S. Senate, but it's already getting support from President Barack Obama.

"We have to exponentially step up our game to go at this thing hard," Obama said. "For those who are in uniform who have experienced sexual assault, I want them to hear directly from their Commander in Chief that I've got their backs."

Military leaders at Joint Base Lewis-McChord say they have a clear message.

"We have no tolerance for this type of behavior, not only in the Army, but in the services as a whole. It's a betrayal to those who wear the uniform," said Lt. Col. Gary Dangerfield.

Murray's legislation would also prohibit sexual contact between military instructors and service members during basic training or its equivalent.

Members of Congress are putting together legislation to essentially strip military officers of the authority to overturn convictions for serious offenses like sexual assault.