Nov 15 2019
Mast Has Written Legislation With Harmony Allen To Fix Loophole Allowing Military Rapists To Go Free
WASHINGTON, D.C. – The Supreme Court of the United States today granted certiorari in United States v. Collins, which is the case involving Port St. Lucie resident Harmony Allen. Allen was raped during her third month in the Air Force by her instructor. Despite being found guilty and sentenced to jail time, the instructor was subsequently freed due to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces misinterpreting the Congressionally-mandated statute of limitations. In April, Rep. Mast introduced legislation with Allen named Harmony’s Law. The bill would help prevent hundreds of rapists—who were convicted and found guilty of rape in the military—from being freed from jail on a misconstrued technicality.
“Today is an incredibly important day for Harmony Allen, her family and every victim of military sexual assault who has experienced this massive miscarriage of justice. The Supreme Court’s decision to hear arguments for Harmony’s case is the right one, and I am hopeful that they will finally right this injustice so that the United States can hold military members who commit rape accountable,” Rep. Mast said. “As Harmony continues her fight for justice, I will keep working to support her efforts to prevent possibly hundreds of rapists from being set free without repercussion.”
Although Congress has made its intent clear in the National Defense Authorization Acts (NDAA) of Fiscal Years 1987 and 2006 that these heinous offenses will have no statute of limitations in the military, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces ruled in U.S. v. Mangahas that the statute of limitations for sexual assaults that occurred before 2006 is five years. In doing so, the Court incorrectly overruled the military’s standard in place from 1986 to 2006 that rape could “be tried and punished at any time without limitation” and misinterpreted the Congressional intent of the 2006 NDAA by failing to apply it to cases that occurred prior to 2006.
As a result, starting last year, convicted sexual offenders in the military are now able to appeal their convictions and be set free if they committed the offense before 2006 but were not charged within 5 years. Two convictions have already been overturned, including Harmony Allen’s case, and there are dozens more in the appellate queue. There may well be hundreds of convicted rapists released early from their sentence and acquitted of their crimes by the time the Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces has an opportunity to rule on every Mangahas appeal.
Harmony’s Law would help hold these convicted criminals accountable and make sure justice is served for victims by:
- Authorizing the House Office of General Counsel to represent the interests of Congress in any cases related to the Mangahas decision
- Expressing the intent of Congress that the passage of time should not bar the prosecution of rape or sexual assault under the Uniformed Code of Military Justice
- Eliminating statutes of limitations for sexual offenses in the military against children