Sexual Assault Review BoardApril 13, 2021
The Sexual Assault Review Board is the Army's primary tool to "...ensure victims' physical, emotional, and spiritual needs are provided for, their rights are protected, and their recovery is facilitated." It is governed by AR 600-20, Appendix F, available at this link.
The Board is a group of individuals that meet monthly to discuss unrestricted reports of sexual assault. The following individuals make up the board:
- The Senior Commander or Deputy Commander
- Lead Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC)
- Victim's Immediate Commander
- All Installation SARCs
- SHARP Victim Advocate
- CID Agent
- SJA or Representative
- Provost Marshal or Representative
- Sexual Assault Clinical Provider
- Chief, Behavioral Health
- Others that "may be appointed by nature of their responsibilities..."
Essentially, every month, the Senior Commander is briefed at the Sexual Assault Review Board on all unrestricted sexual assault cases, in accordance with that installations specific policy. Each case should be briefed to the Board by the CID representative present. The Sexual Assault Review Board discusses the following, among other related topics:
- Status of the investigation into the subject of the sexual assault allegation
- Actions taken against the subject of the sexual assault allegation
- Measures that could be implemented to help the victim recover
- Any actions of reprisal taken because of the unrestricted report
- The status of any MPO or expediated transfer request
- Improvements in the process for victims who make unrestricted sexual assault allegations
The Sexual Assault Review Board should have no impact on the ultimate action taken against the subject. For starters, it is not an adversarial proceeding. Of note, none of the members of the Board are representatives of the individual who is accused of sexual assault. The Board starts with the presumption that the "victim" is telling the truth.
While this Board has no actual legal effect, it does demonstrate the unfairness of the Military Justice system. Anyone claiming to be a victim is immediately provided with numerous services, such as immediate visibility by senior leaders on the Sexual Assault Review Board, the ability to leave the unit (expediated transfer), and many others.
The Board is also chaired by the Senior Commander, someone who should be impartial towards the Soldier accused of sexual assault as well. However, his/her participation in this Board, which assumes the victim is telling the truth before an investigation is even complete, calls into question his/her impartiality.
The Sexual Assault Review Board is just another example of the deck being stacked against any Soldier accused of sexual assault. While the Board's determination has no legal effect, a Soldier should still be concerned that anyone accusing them of a sexual assault is immediately believed by a Board chaired by the Senior Commander of their installation.
This Article was written by Attorney Matthew Barry.