Senator Alex Padilla

SACRAMENTO, Calif. /California Newswire/ — Today, Calif. Governor Brown signed into law Senate Bill 1422 by Senator Alex Padilla (D-Pacoima). The law removes investigations and prosecutions of military sexual assault cases from the chain of command in the California Military Department ensuring that there is no conflict of interest in the evaluation and prosecution of sexual assault cases. SB 1422 goes into effect on January 1, 2015.

SB 1422 requires that cases involving the sexual assault of a service member of the California Military Department (CMD) be subject to the jurisdiction of local civilian authorities. It also provides for no statute of limitation in cases of sexual assault in the CMD. Finally, the new law would also require the department to report annually to the Governor and the Legislature sexual assault statistics and the efficacy of the department’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response (SAPR) program.

“I thank Governor Brown for signing this important legislation. Sexual assault is a serious problem throughout our military. While Washington debates how to address this crisis, California leads by example. Victims of sexual assault deserve our support and a respectful and effective justice system,” said Senator Alex Padilla. “This new law will demonstrate that formally removing the investigation and prosecution from the chain of command is sound public policy,” Padilla added.

The CMD is comprised of the following three components of the active militia: The National Guard, the State Military Reserve, and the Naval Militia. The CMD’s 24,000-person roster includes the California National Guard (CalGuard), the largest of the 54 state-level National Guards in U.S. states and territories. The majority of its service members are on inactive duty status. The federal government has struggled with how best to address sexual assaults in the military. Federal mandates have included establishing a Sexual Assault Response Program (SAPR), Bystander Intervention Training (BIT) and a dual-track sexual assault reporting system for victims.

However, CMD lacks the personnel and infrastructure to adjudicate sexual assault cases. As a result, the CMD’s standing policy is to refer these cases to local authorities who are better equipped to investigate and prosecute potential crimes. Senator Padilla’s legislation made this policy state law.

Every two minutes, an American is sexually assaulted. 1 in 3 American women will be sexually abused during their lifetime. These crimes also take place in our military departments. The most recent report from the Department of Defense estimated that 26,000 service members had experienced unwanted sexual contact in 2012, up from 19,000 in 2010. Last year, U.S. soldiers were 15 times more likely to be raped by a fellow soldier than killed by an enemy.

Senator Alex Padilla, 41, graduated from MIT with a degree in Mechanical Engineering and just completed serving on the MIT Corporation Board. He is President of the National Association of Latino Elected and Appointed Officials. He is Chair of the Senate Energy, Utilities and Communications Committee and represents the more than 1,100,000 residents of the 20th State Senate District in Los Angeles. For more information about Senator Padilla visit his website — or follow him on Facebook.

Editorial note: above text based on press release as provided by office of Mr. Padilla.