Under the Radar

In a Peabody Award-winning investigation the Scripps Washington Bureau conducted an exhaustive, unprecedented review of more than 1,300 military court martial cases and discovered at least 242 convicted military rapists, child molesters, and other sex offenders have fallen under the radar and slipped through what a member of the House Armed Services Committee calls a “gaping loophole” in the system.

Scripps discovered some military sex offenders go on to re-offend in heinous ways on unsuspecting victims in the civilian world.

The Scripps investigation “Under The Radar” has triggered action at the national, state and local level after exposing several major problems when convicted military sex offenders are returned to civilian life:

  • The military does not have the ability to add the name of a sex offender to any public facing sex offender registry.
  • State and civilian law enforcement officials are also left in the dark.
  • Military jargon often does not translate into existing civilian laws.
  • The Department of Defense is exempt from a federal law which requires civilian sex offenders register while still in confinement.

The series of stories and their accompanying digital/broadcast elements can be found here:

Part One: Hundreds of Military Sex Offenders Slide Under The Public Radar

Part Two: A Failed System Enables Convicted Military Sex Offenders To Prey Again

Part Three: Scripps Continues to Press the Pentagon For Answers

Part Four: U.S. Marshals ‘actively’ investigating military sex offenders on heels of Scripps report

Part Five: Army rapist registers as sex offender following Scripps reports

Part Six: Push to reform military sex offender registration gains bipartisan support

Part Seven: Bipartisan senators introduce legislation to close military sex offender reporting loophole, cite Scripps

Part Eight: Bipartisan House bill would require DOD to publish names of military sex offenders, lawmakers cite Scripps reports

Part Nine: An Animation Explaining the Differences Between Two Very Different House and Senate Solutions, As First Introduced

Part 10: Senate Updates Solution, Passes Amendment 98–0 Closing Military Sex Offender Loophole

Part 11: House passes bill requiring DOD to create military sex offender registry

Part 12: First of two bills closing military sex offender loopholes heads to President Obama’s desk.

Part 13: The President signs bill closing military sex offender loophole

Interactive: A first of its kind searchable database of military sex offenders — Under The Radar. Scripps has created an easy to use website where the public can access our research and use it to protect their families, creating a searchable and interactive tool for the public and law enforcement to use going forward. This tool allows users to search by crime, name of offender, location of court martial, or any other word for all of the 240 + military offenders we found who did not appear on public registries.

DecodeDC Podcast: Go “inside” and behind the scenes of the Under The Radar investigation, hear entirely new material, and listen to the story behind the story.

The PBS NewsHour: aired this special report nationally, which includes exclusive content from the Scripps Washington Bureau.

Like what you read? Give Aaron Kessler a round of applause.

From a quick cheer to a standing ovation, clap to show how much you enjoyed this story.