Virginia State Sen. Richard "Dick" Black announced last week that he is running for Congress this year to fill retiring GOP Rep. Frank Wolf's seat. A former military prosecutor, Black started his career in politics as a state House delegate in 1998. He's an extreme social conservative who's said, as Molly Redden at Mother Jones chronicles, some interesting things along the way. In her report Wednesday, Redden dug up Black's thoughts on military sexual assault. After retiring as a military prosecutor in 1994,
He spoke frequently to media outlets about sexual assault in the military, and called military rape 'as predictable as human nature.' 'Think of yourself at 25,' Black told a newspaper in 1996. 'Wouldn't you love to have a group of 19-year-old girls under your control, day in, day out?'
Yep, nothing to be done about a male urge to control women through rape. Black's also opposed making spousal rape a crime, and explained during a debate in 2002, "I do not know how on Earth you could validly get a conviction of a husband-wife rape where they’re living together, sleeping in the same bed, she’s in a nightie, and so forth, there is no injury, there’s no separation or anything." His comments suggest he's not sure what rape is.
Black got his J.D. from the University of Florida and began his Army law career in the late 1970s. He was the head the Army's Criminal Law Division from 1992-1994. The CLD's job is to give legal advice to military commanders regarding "military justice, disciplinary, and adverse administrative matters." So, for at least a two-year period in the U.S. Army, the man charged with advising commanders on sexual assault cases thought rape was just "human nature." Which brings us to the current debate in Congress.
Over the course of 2013, U.S. senators proposed different measures to reform how the military processes sexual assault cases. The military recognizes there is a problem — at an Armed Services Committee hearing in June 2013, Col. Tracy King admitted, "I would honestly tell you there is peer pressure against reporting [sexual assault] right now but the tide is changing." To increase reporting, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand wants to take major crimes (including sexual assault) outside the chain of command, but the military brass doesn't support the measure. Her amendment has not gotten a vote in the Senate, and she might not be able to get the votes for it, anyway.
This may be because dated ideas about rape aren't limited to the military. At the same Committee hearing in June, Sen. Saxby Chambliss explained military rape only slightly better than Black:
The young folks coming in to each of your services are anywhere from 17 to 22 or 23. Gee whiz, the hormone level created by nature sets in place the possibility for these types of things to occur.
Black will challenge Del. Barbara J. Comstock in the primary.
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.