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Supreme Court to hear military rape case involving Port St. Lucie veteran

The justices are set to decide whether there is a five-year statute of limitations for rape charges and convictions in the military.
Credit: AP
FILE - In this May 3, 2020, file photo the setting sun shines on the Supreme Court building on Capitol Hill in Washington. The Supreme Court opens a new term Monday, Oct. 5. (AP Photo/Patrick Semansky, File)

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court will hear arguments in a case involving a U.S. Air Force Veteran from Port St. Lucie on Oct. 13. 

Harmony Allen, a U.S. Air Force veteran from Port St. Lucie, was raped by her instructor three months after she joined the Air Force. Despite being convicted and sentenced to jail time, the instructor was freed because the U.S. Court of Appeals for Armed Forced "misinterpreted" the statute of limitations mandated by Congress, according to Congressman Brian Mast. 

Justices are set to decide whether there is a five-year statute of limitations for rape charges in convictions in the military. 

According to Rep. Mast, Congress has made its intentions clear that offenses such as rape wouldn't have a statute of limitations in the military, as outlined in the NDAA of Fiscal Years 1987 and 2006. However, in 2018, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces ruled in the case U.S. v. Mangahas that the statute of limitations for a sexual assault that happened prior to 2006 is five years. 

In doing so, Rep. Mast says the Court "incorrectly" overruled the standard that'd been in place from 1986 to 2006 that rape could "be tried and punished at any time without limitation."

In April 2019, Rep. Mast introduced Harmony's Law to prevent "convicted military rapists from being freed on a misconstrued technicality." Then in June 2019, Mast wrote to the Solicitor General, urging the office to file a petition for a writ of certiorari to review Allen's case. 

In Nov. 2019, the Supreme Court granted certiorari in United States v. Collins and agreed to hear Allen's case. In Jan. 2020, Rep. Mast filed an amicus curiae brief to the Supreme Court in support of Allen's case. 

“Harmony Allen has been relentless in her fight for justice to hold her rapist accountable for the crimes he committed, and I am proud to support her effort. By filing today’s amicus brief to the Supreme Court, we are doubling down on our efforts to demonstrate just how absurd the decision to free Harmony’s rapist was, and taking the next step to ensure this never happens again,” Rep. Mast said in January. “I’m hopeful the Court will see this heinous crime for what it is and overturn this massive miscarriage of justice once and for all.” 

The hearing for oral arguments before the Supreme Court is set to begin at 10 a.m. on Oct. 13. You'll be able to listen to the full hearing here.

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