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.:
- Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC)
- Victim Advocate (VA)
- Health care personnel
- Chain of command
- Law enforcement
- Legal personnel.
Upon notification of a reported sexual assault, the SARC will immediately assign a VA. At the victim's discretion or request, the health care personnel 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.
The nature of the investigative process can be stressful for victims of sexual assault despite the sincere efforts of law enforcement, staff judge advocate and other personnel entrusted with bringing offenders to justice. Investigators must carefully collect evidence, and the process from investigation to courts martial or some other form of punishment may take many months. They must often ask you, the victim, very precise and probing questions because there usually are no eyewitnesses to provide crucial details. You may not feel you are ready to answer questions so soon after your assault, but the investigators need to interview you while your memories are fresh. Much patience will be required on your part. You will be kept well informed of any investigative actions taken in response to your reported sexual assault. Your commander will ensure, at a minimum, you receive a monthly update regarding the current status of any on-going investigative, medical, legal or command proceedings regarding the sexual assault. This requirement is in addition to those established by the Victim-Witness Assistance Program. Monthly updates are required until the final disposition of the reported assault. "Final disposition" means the conclusion of any judicial, non-judicial, and administrative actions (including separation actions and no action).
Unrestricted Reporting Example
- Service Member Smith arrives at the base medical emergency room and reports she has been sexually assaulted. Health care personnel immediately notify the Sexual Assault Response Coordinator (SARC) and begin administration of any emergency medical treatment as appropriate.
- The SARC assigns a Victim Advocate (VA) to assist Service Member Smith. The VA meets Service Member Smith at the hospital, explains the Unrestricted and Restricted Reporting options and processes associated with each to include applicable pros and cons.
- Service Member Smith elects the Unrestricted Reporting option.
- The VA 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 SAFE, and she agrees.
- The VA advises the health care personnel that Service Member Smith has elected the Unrestricted Reporting option and would like a SAFE.
- Forensic evidence of the assault is collected by health care personnel, and at its conclusion, criminal investigators take chain of custody.
- The health care personnel determine and schedule needed follow-up medical treatment.
- The VA advises the SARC 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 SARC will inform the senior commander that an assault has occurred, and provide the commander with the details of the assault.
- The SARC 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 SARC will also capture trends and perform trend analysis.
- The VA maintains communications and contact with the victim as needed for continued victim support.
Considerations When Electing an Unrestricted Reporting Decision
- Victims feel a sense of closure or healing (which aids recovery)
- Ability for Military to potentially hold the offender accountable
- Ensure the safety of others