Victims' Rights Caucus

Press Releases

Rape Victims Fight Precludes Future Victimizations
 
Washington, D.C., May 28 - The U.S. House of Representatives today adopted an amendment to deny veterans convicted of forcible rape from receiving full military burial honors.  The amendment offered by Congressman John Shadegg (AZ-03) arose out of the rape of a young college graduate named Jenny in Tucson, Arizona in 2001 by a serial rapist, James Allen Selby, who was also a military veteran.  The amendment was included in the National Defense Authorization Act, which also passed the House today.

Under current law, military veterans are entitled to be buried in a veterans or national cemetery, and to receive other honorary emoluments including a military honor guard, a U.S. flag, and a certificate from the President.  While Congress banned veterans convicted of a capital crime from receiving these honors following the Oklahoma City bombing by Timothy McVeigh, veterans convicted of forcible rape remain entitled to these honors.

Victims of forcible rape deserve better.  Current law affording these honors to veterans convicted of rape is an outrage and results in victims and their families being victimized all over again.  The amendment which I was able to convince Congress to adopt today will end this practice, said Congressman John Shadegg.    

In 2001, on Halloween, in Tucson, Arizona, Jenny, a recent college graduate, returned home after work where she was confronted by James Allen Selby.  Selby jumped out of a closet, hauled her into the shower, bound her hands and ankles with duct tape, and raped her at knife point.  Selby was caught and tried in Pima County.  He had raped 10 other women including a nine year old girl.  On the morning Selby was to be sentenced, he hanged himself in his jail cell.  To the shock of Jenny, her family, and the other victims, Selby was afforded a burial at Fort Sill National Cemetery, with full military benefits, including a military honor guard, a U.S. flag, and a certificate from the President.

It demeans the honor of all those who have served this nation to allow a perpetrator of such a heinous crime to be buried alongside Americas heroes in a veterans cemetery, Congressman Shadegg said.

In 2007, Congressman Shadegg was approached by Steve Bush to end this practice.  Shadegg introduced legislation that year, and each year since called Jennys Law.  Both Steve Bush and his daughter Jenny, along with many other victims groups have fought to end this outrageous injustice.  Groups including the Military Order of the Purple Heart also support Jennys Law.

I am happy to have been able to finally secure passage of Jennys Law and that no rape victim will suffer the pain of watching the individual convicted of raping her be buried in a military cemetery with full military honors, said Congressman Shadegg.