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Reporting options: Restricted vs. unrestricted

Sexual assault is the most under reported crime in our society and in the military.

While the Department of Defense prefers complete reporting of sexual assaults to activate both victims’ services and law enforcement actions, it recognizes that some victims desire only medical and support services and no command or law enforcement involvement.

The Department believes its first priority is for victims to be protected, treated with dignity and respect, and to receive the medical treatment, care and counseling that they deserve. Under DoD’s Confidentiality Policy, sexual assault victims are offered two reporting options, reporting or unrestricted reporting.

Restricted reporting

This option is recommended for victims of sexual assault who wish to confidentially disclose the crime to specifically identified individuals and receive medical treatment and counseling without triggering the official investigative process. Service members who are sexually assaulted and desire restricted reporting under this policy must report the assault to a Sexual Assault Response Coordinator, Victim Advocate , or a healthcare provider.

As provided for above, victims may also discuss the assault with a chaplain. Discussing the assault with a chaplain is not a restricted report under this policy, it is a communication that may be protected under the Military Rules of Evidence (MRE) or applicable statues and regulations. The restricted reporting process does not affect any privilege recognized under the MRE. This policy on restricted reporting is in addition to the current protections afforded by privileged communications with a chaplain, and does not alter or affect those protections.

Healthcare providers will initiate the appropriate care and treatment, and report the sexual assault to the sexual assault response coordinator in lieu of reporting the assault to law enforcement or the command. Upon notification of a reported sexual assault, the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator will immediately assign a victim advocate to the victim. The assigned victim advocate will provide accurate information on the process of restricted vice unrestricted reporting.

At the victim’s discretion/request an appropriately trained healthcare provider shall conduct a sexual assault forensic examination (SAFE), which may include the collection of evidence. In the absence of a DoD provider, the service member will be referred to an appropriate civilian facility for the SAFE.

Who May Make A Restricted Report

Restricted reporting is available to military personnel of the Armed Forces and the Coast Guard and active duty dependents. Military personnel include members on active duty and members of the Reserve component (Reserve and National Guard) provided they are performing federal duty (active-duty training or inactive-duty training and members of the National Guard in federal (Title 10) status). Members of the Reserve Component not performing federal duty are not eligible. Retired members of any component are not eligible. Adult dependents, 18 years of age and older, are eligible when sexually assaulted by someone other than their spouse or intimate partner. DoD civilian employees are eligible for consultation with a victim advocate to gain a referral to local community-based advocacy, counseling and medical services.

Example Restricted Reporting

  • Servicemember Smith arrives at the base medical emergency room and reports she has been sexually assaulted. Healthcare providers immediately notify the sexual assault response coordinator and begin any appropriate emergency medical treatment.
  • The Sexual Assault Response Coordinator assigns a victim advocate to assist service member Smith. The victim advocate meets service member Smith at the hospital and explains the unrestricted/restricted reporting options and the processes associated with each, to include applicable pros/cons. Servicemember Smith elects the restricted reporting option.
  • Servicemember Smith is asked if she would like a forensic examination, and she agrees.
  • The victim advocate advises the healthcare provider that servicemember Smith has elected the restricted reporting option and would like a SAFE.
  • Forensic evidence of the assault is collected and preserved in a non-personally identifying manner.
  • The healthcare provider determines and schedules follow-up medical treatment as appropriate.
  • The victim advocate advises the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator that servicemember Smith has elected the restricted reporting option.
  • Within 24 hours of servicemember Smith's restricted report, the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator will inform the installation commander that an assault has occurred, and provide the commander with non-identifying personal information/details related to the sexual assault allegation. This information includes: rank, gender, age, race, service, date, time and/or location. Information is disclosed in a manner that preserves the victim's anonymity. Careful consideration of which details to include is of particular significance at installations or other locations where there are a limited number of minority females or female officers assigned. The installation commander may notify the criminal investigators. However, no criminal investigation will be initiated unless originated from another source or the victim elects to come forward via unrestricted reporting.
  • The installation commander identifies trends and takes appropriate measures (i.e. increased security patrols, enhanced education and training, enhanced environmental and safety measures) to prevent further sexual assaults.
  • The Sexual Assault Response Coordinator maintains information regarding the number of sexual assaults for both unrestricted and restricted reports. Restricted report numbers will be included in the annual report. The Sexual Assault Response Coordinator also will capture trends and perform trend analysis. Sexual Assault Response Coordinator awareness of trends will be a first line of defense against a potential serial assailant. The Sexual Assault Response Coordinator can at any time return to servicemember Smith to ask if he or she is willing to reconsider his or her restricted reporting decision given the potential of a serial offender.
  • The victim advocate maintains communication and contact with the victim as needed for continued victim support.

Considerations when Electing a Restricted Reporting Decision

Benefits

  • You receive appropriate medical treatment, advocacy, and counseling.
  • Provides some personal space and time to consider your options and to begin the healing process.
  • Empowers you to seek relevant information and support to make more informed decisions about participating in the criminal investigation.
  • You control the release and management of your personal information.
  • You decide whether and when to move forward with initiating an investigation.

Limitations

  • Your assailant remains unpunished and capable of assaulting other victims.
  • You cannot receive a military protective order.
  • You will continue to have contact with your assailant, if he/she is in your organization or billeted with you.
  • Evidence from the crime scene where the assault occurred will be lost, and the official investigation, should you switch to an unrestricted report, will likely encounter significant obstacles.
  • You will not be able to discuss the assault with anyone, to include your friends, without imposing an obligation on them to report the crime. The only exceptions would be chaplains, designated healthcare providers, your assigned victim advocate and the sexual assault response coordinator.
  • You will be ineligible to invoke the collateral misconduct provision of the Department's sexual assault policy in the event that your command learns that you had been engaged in some form of misconduct at the time you were assaulted.

Unrestricted reporting

This option is recommended for victims of sexual assault who desire medical treatment, counseling and an official investigation of the crime. When selecting unrestricted reporting, you should use current reporting channels, e.g. chain of command, law enforcement or report the incident to the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (sexual assault response coordinator), or request healthcare providers to notify law enforcement. Upon notification of a reported sexual assault, the sexual assault response coordinator will immediately assign a Victim Advocate (victim advocate). At the victim's discretion/request, the healthcare provider shall conduct a sexual assault forensic examination (SAFE), which may include the collection of evidence. Details regarding the incident will be limited to only those personnel who have a legitimate need to know.

Unrestricted Reporting Example

  • Service member Smith arrives at the base medical emergency room and reports she has been sexually assaulted.
  • Healthcare providers immediately notify the sexual assault response coordinator and begin administration of any emergency medical treatment as appropriate.
  • The sexual assault response coordinator assigns a victim advocate to assist service member Smith.
  • The victim advocate meets service member Smith at the hospital, explains the unrestricted/restricted reporting options and processes associated with each to include applicable pros/cons.
  • Service member Smith elects the unrestricted reporting option.
  • The victim advocate immediately notifies the appropriate Criminal Investigative Service and the victim's unit commander.
  • Criminal investigators arrive and begin the investigation.
  • Service member Smith is asked if she would like a sexual assault forensic examination, and he or she agrees.
  • The victim advocate advises the healthcare provider that service member Smith has elected the unrestricted reporting option and would like a sexual assault forensic examination.
  • Forensic evidence of the assault is collected by healthcare providers, and at its conclusion, criminal investigators take chain of custody.
  • The healthcare provider determines and schedules follow-up medical treatment as appropriate.
  • The victim advocate advises the sexual assault response coordinator that service member Smith has elected the unrestricted reporting option.
  • In addition to any current existing channels of notification, within 24 hours of service member Smith's unrestricted report, the sexual assault response coordinator will inform the installation commander that an assault has occurred, and provide the Commander with the details of the assault.
  • The sexual assault response coordinator maintains information regarding the number of sexual assaults for both unrestricted and restricted reports. Restricted report numbers will be included in the annual report.
  • The sexual assault response coordinator will also capture trends and perform trend analysis.
  • The victim advocate maintains communications and contact with victim as needed for continued victim support.

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