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Casual Sex, young military adults, and Article 120

 In ARTICLE 120, Blog, court-martial

Casual sex factors that call for an experienced military sexual assault attorney

Eliminating sexual assault from the military is a laudable goal.  However, the complexity of the problem does not lend itself to easy solutions.   Congress has repeatedly directed and even threatened each branch of the military to take action to prevent and prosecute sexual assault.  Unfortunately, sometimes this has led to innocent service members being accused and prosecuted for sexual assault.  Regret, alcohol, and peer pressure are factors in casual sex among young people.  The military, however, is very capable of mistaking incidents involving regret or drunk sex for sexual assault. These classic he-said-she-said cases call for an experienced military sexual assault attorney.

Why young people have casual sex

An example of the complexity of the problem is the phenomenon of regret:  studies on casual sex among young adults show a myriad of motivations and gender differences. Considering the prevalence of sexual assault allegations among military members and the number of Article 120 investigations, it might be useful to discuss how young service members find themselves in vulnerable situations either as alleged victims or alleged perpetrators.

In a study published in the National Institutes of Health’s National Library of Medicine, researchers drew on structured surveys and in-depth qualitative interviews with a large, heterogeneous sample of young adults. Examining the motivations for and implications of casual sex during the young adult phase of life were as follows: (1) casual sex is fun and enjoyable, (2) casual sex occurs because of substance use, (3) there is no emotional commitment with casual sexual relationships, and (4) casual sex is a way to acquire peers’ approval. The study also showed that these motivations differed between men and women

Young people have casual sex for different reasons

Young people learning to be adults engage in casual sex. Studies show there is a period where young adults are not interested in becoming full-fledged adults with committed relationships and related responsibilities. Blinding flash of the obvious, right?  If young adults do not feel that they have the time for more committed relationships, they may be more motivated to have casual sex as an outlet for sexual behavior without the time commitment of romantic relationships.

But with the casual nature of this activity comes a certain degree of risk borne out of the motivations and factors involved. Is it possible that among the casual sex enjoyed among the men and women in the military, exists incidents involving a narrow band of regret, alcohol, and peer pressure?

In their review of many studies, researchers, Heidi A. LyonsWendy D. ManningMonica A. Longmore, and Peggy C. Giordano found, that men were more likely to claim status among friends as a reason for participating in casual sex, and women were more likely to participate in casual sex because of mutual feelings of attraction and friendship.

Right there, the difference between men and women in these motivations can have a potential for regret if both parties don’t share a desire for friendship. Research shows women claim more negative emotional reactions to casual sex, although both genders claim mostly positive experiences (Owen and Fincham (2011). Female college students who engaged in casual sex compared with those who did not, were more likely to report feelings of regret (Eshbaugh and Gute 2008).  Women who participated in casual sexual activity, compared with those who did not, experienced more depressive symptoms; conversely, men who had casual sex, compared with those who did not, experienced fewer depressive symptoms (Owen, Fincham, & Moore). These divergent views on the same experience is classic ‘he said she said’. What happens in those isolated, regretful, negative experiences? Does regret lead to accusations of assault?

In our experience, military sexual assault and prevention programs can cause women who are just regretful to make false allegations of sexual assault. Service members under investigation for Article 120 sexual assault should speak with our experienced military sexual assault attorney to discuss their case.

Article 120, sex and alcohol

One study found that 62% of respondents reported using drugs or alcohol during casual sex. Another reported that alcohol use was a significant predictor of hooking up. In many Article 120 allegations, drunk sex is a factor.  Again, military sexual assault prevention leans hard into the notion that a person drinking alcohol cannot consent, although in general, that only applies to alleged victims.  Intoxication is not a defense if a service member is accused of committing sexual assault. The military treats both parties engaged in drunk sex differently.  An experienced military sexual assault attorney can analyze and identify these types of cases.

Regret or sexual assault?

The military effort to prevent and prosecute sexual assault scoops up a large number of confusing cases with scant evidence that are very likely not sexual assault, but cases of regret, mistakes of fact, poor communication, and consensual drunk sex participation by both parties.  The ‘he said she said’ divergent views get weighted differently through the lens of the military’s current efforts to prevent sexual assault. The consequences for both parties can be devastating:  a regretful participant in casual sex is convinced they are in fact a victim and the alleged perpetrator can face court-martial.

Researchers said their goal was to better understand why young adults have casual sex. Better understanding can lead to better intervention strategies that encourage healthy sexual decision making. Certainly, this is a laudable goal especially in the military where young people are having casual sex just like their non-military peers.

If you are being investigated for Article 120 Sexual Assault and need to speak with a military sexual assault attorney, call now ‪(757) 504-2815 or contact us here for a consultation.






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