In the war against sexual assault, the Army keeps shooting itself in the footWell, Congress is trying to do something about it, or kind-of-sort-of.
By Craig Whitlock
December 19, 2015
FORT STEWART, Ga. — To mark the end of Sexual Assault Awareness Month in April, the 188th Infantry Brigade held a potluck luncheon here at the largest Army installation east of the Mississippi River. The deputy commander reminded his soldiers they were all “responsible for bringing an end to sexual assault and harassment,” according to the brigade’s Facebook account.
What most of the soldiers didn’t know was that the deputy commander, Lt. Col. Michael D. Kepner II, was himself facing court-martial on charges that he had sexually harassed and assaulted a female lieutenant on his staff.
Despite repeated complaints from the victim and other officers, Kepner’s chain of command violated Army rules and allowed him to stay in a leadership post for at least eight months while he was under criminal investigation, internal Army emails and memos show. He later pleaded guilty to some of the charges and is serving time in a military prison.
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A Pennsylvania lawmaker who says he continues to hear many complaints about sexual harassment and abuse from women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan wants the Defense Department to do more to stop mistreatment and provide more care for victims.Dose that sound like something new? It isn't. It was reported by Army Times way back in 2008.
Sen. Bob Casey, D-Pa., a member of the Senate Veterans’ Affairs Committee, said in a Monday letter to Defense Secretary Robert Gates that harassment and assault of military women, especially in combat zones, is a “scourge” that needs to be eliminated.
Congress followed up by holding, you guess it, another hearing on what they thought was such a serious issue they had to get someone to account for all of it. Dr. Kaye Whitley didn't show up.
“It’s an oversight hearing on sexual assault in the military. As such, we thought it was proper to hear from the director of the Defense Department’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. ... Inexplicably, the Defense Department — and you, apparently — have resisted.”So, Congress held another hearing since Whitley was "director of the office of sexual assault prevention and response."
By January of 2009 the DOD announced it was "expanding its attention to sexual abuse cases by adding prosecutors, rearranging its criminal investigative unit and stepping up training to change behavior.
"Geren approved the hiring of 15 new prosecutors and five prosecutor trainers for the Army’s Judge Advocate General Corps (JAG). The JAG also will hire seven experts in sexual assault litigation training to help prosecutors and train Army lawyers around the world."What we soon learned was that the "seriousness" of those efforts didn't really turn out to be true at all. As a matter of fact, Military sexual assault victims raped twice, forced to pay for care.
But the Office of Inspector General at the department found this year that an outpatient clinic in Austin, Tex., had repeatedly charged veterans, mostly women, for those services. Based on concerns that the practice may be more widespread, the office decided to expand its review to a sampling of veterans health care centers and clinics nationwide.But even Chaplains were not taking any of this seriously.
In February 2009, she reported for active duty training and, upon seeing her rapist, went into shock.Another young victim was tossed out after she was raped.
"She immediately sought the assistance of the military chaplain," the lawsuit reads. "When SGT Havrilla met with the military chaplain, he told her that 'it must have been God's will for her to be raped' and recommended that she attend church more frequently."
"admitted to the investigator taking her statement that she’d been socializing the previous night at an officer’s club, got drunk, and accepted a ride from a man whom she’d only just met.Should remove any doubt as to why most of these "assaults" were not reported.
The officer sounded skeptical. You went with this man to a hotel, she remembers the officer saying, and you want me to believe that it wasn’t consensual?
Then, before the young private had time to think it through, she blurted out the words she’d been warned never to say in the military: “I’m gay…”
Eight weeks later, plagued by anxiety and flashbacks, she was ordered to pack her bags and was handed a plane ticket home. Her discharge sheet read: “homosexual admission.”
The Defense Department has estimated that 86 percent of sexual assaults go unreported, an indication that some women are worried about the effect reporting an assault may have on their career and that they mistrust the military prosecution system. Nearly 3,200 sexual assaults were reported in the military last year.Because even when they did try to get justice, tried to get Congress to actually act for their sake, they were just left to worry what would happen to them afterwards could be worse than the rape itself.
FORT BRAGG, N.C. -- A former subordinate to an Army general facing sex crimes charges testified Tuesday that the general started an affair with her in Iraq and later threatened to kill her and her family if she told anyone. The woman says she was honored at first by the attention from Brig. Gen. Jeffrey Sinclair, who she said was highly regarded. They first had sex in 2008 at a forward operating base in Iraq, she said. "I was extremely intimated by him. Everybody in the brigade spoke about him like he was a god," she said. The AP does not name victims of alleged sexual assaults.