Sexual Harassment and the Code of Military Justice

Do the Japanese realize that they lost WWII?
Not that US service people should be free to wreak havoc in Japan, but they might consider turning them over to US justice.

That sort of sounds like POW camps, where the Japanese ate people.

Well, the USA did a lot to appease the Franco regime in other dubious aspects to hold their airbases.

Do you realize the war ended 77 years ago?

Japan is a sovereign nation with its own justice system charged with enforcing the law and maintaining peace and order in Japan. If they apprehend criminals in Japan, their job is to give them a fair trial in a Japanese court and if they are convicted send them to a Japanese prison. That’s how criminal justice works. Americans are not above other nations’ laws.

I was doing some work in Svetogorsk, Russia. It’s a small town on the Finnish border. There was a lightning strike that ended the work day early, and I announced my plans to use the unexpected free time to visit St. Petersburg, around a three hour drive, although I lacked the proper paperwork to take my car of Finnish registry into whatever municipal district it was in. The locals warned me that if I got caught in a records check I would be in trouble, and I said I’d simply look at them with my dumb American face and say “I don’t understand”. The locals said not to worry, they’d keep me in jail until I did understand.


This is veering awfully close to racist bigotry. Even if the Japanese did eat people in POW camps (a topic I know nothing about), that was the better part of a century ago, and it’s utterly irrelevant to this thread. Drop the topic.

nm. RickJay covered it.

A SOFA can certainly say that American service members are above another nations laws. Whether a service member is tried under UCMJ or a host nation’s laws will be expressly stated in the SOFA. The SOFA is an agreement between two sovereign nations so it is agreed upon prior to the crime. It doesn’t have to say service members may only be tried by military court but it can.

What is the actual punishment, in the case of sexual harassment?

My question partially stems from the fact that I know next to nothing about military procedures. For all I know (very little), the Code of Military Justice is the only way to “fire” someone from the military. Does the CMJ act as both a law book and an HR manual, if you know what I mean?

For example, if the crime of sexual harassment meant demotion or dishonorable discharge, and nothing more than that, then it’s essentially the same as what the private sector would do to someone found to be a harasser – fire that person with cause.

On the other hand, if it could involve jail time, then that’s more than what an HR manual could do (obviously). The military, of course, has special needs and if sexual harassment harms readiness and puts soldiers in danger, then jail time may be the answer.

Basically, I know nothing, and I’m hoping you all could enlighten me.

Up through 1961 they absolutely did try and execute soldiers/sailors/airmen/marines, both for murdering each other, and for raping/murdering civilians.

There’s even a section at one of the overseas cemeteries in France with unmarked graves set aside for the WWII executed- a sort of dishonorable plot.

I had no idea that many US servicemen were executed.

All for rape and murder. Only Eddie Slovik, mentioned in the link, was shot for desertion. Not beyond understanding, when the outcome of a war is on sight, nobody wants to become a historical footnote as the last soldier killed, and Slovik was of that mindset. His superiors did everything they could to drop it and go back to the line, but he stood fast, and Ike had him shot pour encourager les autres

Contrasted with the account I read in a biography of Rod Serling, who was gung-ho and joined the Airborne Rangers, but was sent to the Pacific since the Army tried somewhat to keep its Jewish soldiers from becoming German POWs. MacArthur never put much stock in paratroops, so Serling only saw action late on the war; again when the outcome was no longer in doubt. Significantly he didn’t go AWOL like Slovik, but he did ask to be taken out of combat, even after it was pointed out that it would mean somebody else would have to go in his place.

Unlike in the civilian world, sexual harassment is now a criminal offense in the US Military. This is what I was getting at with my comment to Czarcasm. For some reason he is more pissed that it took the military this long to make it illegal than he is at the fact that no State in the country has made it a criminal offense.
The maximum punishment for conviction of Article 134 - Sexual Harassment is two years in prison, Dishonorable Discharge, and forfeiture of all pay & allowances.

The elements of the crime are:

  1. Accused knowingly made sexual advances, demands or requests for sexual favors, or engaged in other conduct “of a sexual nature”. The advances can be online, in-person, by phone, etc.
  2. The conduct was unwelcome.
  3. The victim reasonably believed that submission to the sexual advance would benefit their job, pay, career, etc.; or
    That refusing the advance would harm their job, position, pay, etc.); or
    The sexual advances are so severe, repetitive, or pervasive that the victim reasonably perceives it as intimidating, hostile or offensive.
  4. The conduct of the accused was prejudice to good order and discipline or would discredit the military.

The “HR” manual is it’s own thing. People can commit crimes and not be discharged for it, and people can be discharge for things other than crimes. But Sexual Harassment is now a codified criminal offense with its own specific maximum punishment.

The Uniform Code of Military Justice is the law set by Congress to “administer justice” in the military. The Manual for Courts-Martial is what the military uses to actually put the UCMJ into action. There is “non-judicial punishment” (which, IMHO, is a BS term as it’s a trail, albeit a kangaroo court), then three levels of courts-martial: (in order of severity, from least to most) summary, special, general. The only way to get a bad conduct discharge is as a sentence from a special court-martial or general court-martial; the only way to get a dishonorable dischage is as a sentence from a general court-martial. (Fun fact: the military term for such sentencing is “award”).

Finally, there is also something called “administrative separation”. This can be done at the member’s request (such as a hardship discharge), or at the commanding officer’s request (lots of reasons here).

This is really where judges/Justices like Breyer have a point. Gray was convicted in 1988. The judicial system is unable to review his complaints about his conviction in 34 years? That is nothing less than completely dysfunctional. We could get rid of the death penalty (which is a reasonable argument) or we can have it, but if we are going to have it, let’s call the judges back from vacation to make some rulings that take fewer than 34 years, huh?

I’m a strong proponent of the death penalty, and the extreme slowness of the system is the worst part of the current system, in my opinion. I’ve sometimes thought that we should have a law to speed things up to a reasonable level; for example, that any given level of review/appeal on death penalty cases should take no longer than 6 months to complete.

Hell, I had a case where a dog mauled a 6 year old girl and the process took two years to put down a dog. We would need serious reform to execute a person in six months when it currently takes two years to execute a dog.