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The Wisconsin National Guard continues to take the fight against sexual assault of its military members seriously.

Gov. Scott Walker signed Assembly Bill 641 on April 8, which updates the Wisconsin Code of Military Justice (WCMJ) concerning how sexual assault is defined. The limiting offenses of “rape” and “carnal knowledge” are replaced by the more expansive punitive article “sexual assault.”

The updated code also addresses sexual assault of a child, computer pornography and stalking.

Wisconsin is the first state in the nation to amend its state code specifically to provide an enhanced Article 120, Sexual Assault Punitive Article.

“It holds perpetrators accountable and protects victims in our ranks,” said Col. Julio Barron, the Wisconsin National Guard’s legislative liaison. “It also aligns closely with the [federal] Uniform Code of Military Justice.”

Barron said the updated WCMJ is a component – along with Special Victims Counsel, sexual assault victim advocates, the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response team and Sexual Assault Response Coordinator – in the Wisconsin National Guard’s initiative to counter sexual assault.

Last fall the Wisconsin National Guard was the first state in the nation to implement the special victims counsel program, which provides a licensed attorney qualified in military law to help victims who file unrestricted reports of sexual assault navigate the investigation and military justice processes. Because special victims counsel are dedicated and obligated to advocate for the victim’s best interests, victims may be empowered to complete the investigation and prosecution of the alleged assailant.

Two senior judge advocates – one for Army and one for Air – have been appointed as special victim counsel. Wisconsin National Guard members who are sexually assaulted by another service member are eligible for special victim counsel service.

“It’s a full-court press attack on sexual assault in the Wisconsin National Guard,” Barron explained. “We’re talking maximum effort.”

Maj. Gen. Don Dunbar, Wisconsin adjutant general, said there is no place for sexual assault in the Wisconsin National Guard.

“I want to thank the governor and the legislature for their leadership on this important issue,” he said. “Changing the Wisconsin Code of Military Justice helps us provide every protection possible for our Airmen and Soldiers.”