Hagel Reacts To General’s Decision Overturning Sex Assault Conviction

WASHINGTON (AP) — U.S. officials say Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel is recommending that military commanders be stripped of their ability to reverse criminal convictions of service members in response to a congressional uproar over an Air Force officer’s decision to overturn a guilty verdict in a sexual assault case.Officials say Hagel will seek legislation requiring that cases go through the U.S. Court of Military Appeals. The furor involves a decision by Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin, commander of the 3rd Air Force, to overturn the sexual assault conviction against Lt. Col. James Wilkerson, a former inspector general at Aviano Air Base in Italy. Hagel ordered a review but lacks sole authority to change the law or the case’s outcome.

Officials weren’t authorized to speak publicly about the change, so they requested anonymity.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press.