U.S. Senator Saxby Chambliss (R-Ga.) is facing massive backlash from both sides of the isle after airing comments suggesting that sexual crimes in the military are fault of natural hormone levels in men.
The comment was made during a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing held on Tuesday regarding sexual assaults in the military and how the armed forces goes about addressing such allegations.
Cases of military sexual assault are currently handled through the military's chain of command. Commanding officers are granted permission to pursue charges or court-martial when a sexual assault case comes forward, but such cases rarely ever get to that level thanks to a culture that's largely tolerant of sexual assault.
Chambliss' comments, at first glance, seem to defend assaults with a cloak of hormones.
"The young folks that are coming into each of your services are anywhere from 17 to 22-23," the senator said. "Gee whiz, the hormone level created by nature sets in place the possibility for these types of things to occur."
Chambliss continued, however, saying that both the military and the Senate needs to be careful in how it addresses the sexual assault issue, stating that neither the Senate nor the top military officials are doing enough to bring the sexual assault rates down.
Many fellow Republicans were quick to distance themselves from Chambless' comments. Rep. Mike Turner (R- Ohio), co-chairman of the military sexual assault prevention caucus, quickly issued a statement blaming criminals, not hormones, for the military's history of sexual assaults, according to CNN.
"Perpetuating this line of thinking does nothing to help change the culture of our military," Turner said. "We must be focused on combating this issue directly. The numbers speak for themselves."
For the military, the numbers stand at about 26,000 sexual assaults in 2012, and a significant chunk of those assaults can't be written off as hormones, especially after the officer leading the Air Force's sexual assault prevention program was charged with sexual assault. He's 41-years-old.
Senator Chambliss has since issued a statement saying that sexual assault in the military is unacceptable, and that military culture will need to change to address the problem.