U.S. Sen. Saxby Chambliss (File Photo)
WASHINGTON — A Republican U.S. senator was under fire on Tuesday after blaming youthful hormones, at least in part, for sexual assaults in the military.
Senator Saxby Chambliss, a Republican from Georgia, made the comments at a hearing attended by the top uniformed officers of the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines and Coast Guard. The chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff was also present.
"The young folks that are coming into each of your services are anywhere from 17 to 22, or 23," Chambliss said.
"Gee whiz, the level - the hormone level created by nature sets in place the possibility for these types of things to occur," he said, before admonishing the military and Congress itself for failing to stem sexual assaults.
At the same hearing, Senator Claire McCaskill, a Democrat from Missouri and a former prosecutor who handled sex crimes, said bluntly that "this isn't about sex."
"My years of experience in this area tell me they are committing crimes of domination and violence," she said.
Debbie Wasserman Schultz, chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, called on Chambliss to apologize.
"I think he should think about whether if, God forbid, a sexual assault happens to a daughter of his, would he think it's OK for a senator to just chalk the assault up to raging hormones," she told MSNBC television.
Chambliss' comments were also criticized by Mike Turner, a fellow Republican congressman from Ohio and co-chair of the military sexual assault prevention caucus.
"It's simple; criminals are responsible for sexual assaults, not hormones," Turner said in a statement.