Forensic consultant and author Dean Tong states, “Approximately 270,000 parents are victimized each year throughout the United States by false and unsubstantiated reports of child sexual abuse.” Family courts and child protective services have been plagued with false accusations used in an attempt to break the relationship between a parent and child. As bad as it is to be falsely accused in the civilian sector, it is much worse in the military. In the military, the soldier has little say after the accusations are made and must follow orders from a chain of command concerned more with how the accusation might affect his own career, not the soldier’s.
Family Advocacy is the military equivalent of child protective services. It is your responsibility to investigate allegations of abuse. Unlike child protective services, however, family advocacy has an additional resource: the soldier’s chain of command. Upon receiving reports of abuse, the family advocate notifies the appropriate authorities (eg, military police) as well as the weld commander or first sergeant. Once the soldier is notified of the charge, he must be read his rights under article 31 of the uniform code of military justice. The soldier is then “advised” in writing that he is not to return home or have any contact with spouse or children other than as directed by family advocacy. This is formally known as a No Contact Order or Military Protection Order (Restraining Order). Failure to comply with the order is subject to punishment under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.
After informing the soldier of his rights and issuing the Military Protection Order, the commander, or most likely the First Sergeant, will order the soldier to leave the house and enter the barracks. (Some units keep a room open specifically for this purpose, since it happens so frequently.) The soldier is escorted to his house by a military policeman while he collects the uniforms and personal hygiene products. In many cases, when the soldier is allowed to return home, the spouse has moved away and the soldier is left in an empty housing unit or apartment. Often, all personal belongings will be gone, except for those that the spouse did not want.
There are two options available to report abuse to Family Advocacy. They are restricted reports Y unrestricted reporting. A restricted report does not start the investigative process and will not be notified to any investigative agency or the soldier’s chain of command. With Unrestricted Reporting, investigative agencies, including the soldier’s chain of command, are notified. Both have advantages and limitations. For example, in Restricted Reports, the soldier will not be placed under a Military Protection Order. However, if it is a true case of abuse, the victim will not have the available protection that unrestricted reporting provides: the military protection order. If a report is made to a third party who reports it to Family Advocacy, it automatically becomes an Unrestricted Report. Certain professions, such as nurses, teachers, and social workers, are classified as required reporting. By law, they must report any suspected abuse. The angry spouse can simply make a comment to a mandated reporter, who will file an abuse report with family defense.
The Lautenberg Amendment is a supplement to the Gun Control Act of 1968. “Makes it a felony for any person convicted of a misdemeanor domestic violence offense to send, transport, possess, or receive firearms or ammunition.” An angry and vengeful husband, determined to end a soldier’s career, will push the buttons. A simple slap can result in a conviction for domestic violence and will immediately end a military career. A soldier who cannot carry a firearm is useless to the military.
If the spouse moves to another state, the investigation will be transferred to the nearest facility; however, it is not uncommon for an investigation to be closed because the spouse did not participate. The spouse accomplished what he set out to do: put the service member under great stress, walked off with all possessions, took the children, wreaked havoc on the service member’s career, and very likely destroyed all of the service member’s personal memories. military service in a last ditch attempt at “revenge”. However, Military Protection Orders will remain in effect.
False accusations are made to the defense of the family for the same reason that they are so common in the civil sector. They are a quick and easy method to break a relationship between the individual and his children. With an indictment, an “angry and vengeful” spouse will have the serviceman under house arrest while he loads up the couple’s belongings and leaves the facility. As in the civil sector, if the accusations are proven to be false, the accuser will go unpunished. And, as in the civil sector, an overwhelming percentage of the accusations are found to be unsubstantiated. Since spouses who make false accusations are not liable, again, there is no bar to making an accusation.
Little can be done to manipulate the military establishment; however, there is a need to begin prosecuting false accusations filed with family courts and child protective services simply because of the overwhelming number of accusations filed each year. Each false accusation to child protective services takes away the resources needed to investigate reports of actual cases of child abuse. There is no reason why a child should be subjected to physical or psychological abuse. It is our responsibility as a society to protect our children, and allowing false allegations of abuse to overwhelm an investigative agency that is already understaffed, undertrained, and underfunded, as well as an overburdened court system, makes us all accountable for cases of abuse. abuse that crept through the system.