New Senate bill to combat military sexual assaults

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WASHINGTON (AP) — The Senate is heading toward a vote to change the military justice system to deal with sexual assault.

The legislation would scrap the nearly century-old practice of an accused being able to use a "good soldier defense" to raise doubts that a crime had been committed.

Democrat Claire McCaskill and Republicans Kelly Ayotte and Deb Fischer crafted the measure. It would impose a half dozen changes as Congress tries to combat the pervasive problem of rape and other sexual offenses in the military.

In a rare show of unanimity, the Senate voted 100-0 last Thursday to move ahead on the bill. The House could act on it as a stand-alone measure or incorporate it into the massive defense policy bill that it pulls together in the spring.

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