Tuesday, June 4, 2013

Don’t Trust the Pentagon to End Rape

PFC LaVena Johnson, victim of military rape,
sexual assault and murder!


The New York Times reports --The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing today on sexual assault in the military. This comes after months of revelations of rapes and other violent attacks at military bases and academies. At the hearing, the chiefs of staff of the military branches will likely admit that there is a serious problem and insist that the solution involves changing military culture. But the challenge goes far deeper.

The military has a problem with embedded, serial sexual predators. According to a 2011 report from the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault and Prevention Office, 90 percent of military rapes are committed by men with previous histories of assault. These predators select and befriend lower-ranking victims; often they ply their victims with alcohol or drugs and assault them when they are unconscious.

In my film “The Invisible War,” a retired brigadier general, Loree K. Sutton, describes the military as a “target-rich environment” for serial predators. The training and leadership efforts the Pentagon proposes won’t change this environment. It simply isn’t possible to “train” or “lead” serial predators not to rape.

There is a way to stop these predators: we should prosecute and incarcerate them. But here the military fails entirely.

Though the Defense Department estimates that there were 26,000 sexual assaults in the military last year, fewer than 1 percent resulted in a court-martial conviction. Why? There is a deep institutional bias in the military’s justice system; senior officers can — and often do — intervene to prevent cases from being investigated and prosecuted.

Victims of sexual assault know this well, which is why fewer than 15 percent of sexual assaults in the military are ever reported. I spoke with hundreds of men and women who were sexually assaulted in the military while I was making “The Invisible War”; every one of them was advised by their peers not to report. Gen. James F. Amos, the commandant of the Marine Corps, acknowledged that victims didn’t come forward because “they don’t trust the command.” Victims know they are unlikely to receive impartial justice and that reporting their attackers to the chain of command may well hurt their careers.

 Senator Kirsten E. Gillibrand, Democrat of New York, and colleagues have recently introduced legislation that would empower military prosecutors and judges to decide whether to investigate and prosecute felony crimes. This would remove the decision-making process from the military chain of command and remove the disincentive to report crimes.

The Pentagon is resisting this reform, just as it resisted reforms after the Tailhook episode in 1991, over sexual assaults at a gathering in Las Vegas; sexual assaults on female Army recruits at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland in 1996; and a 2003 investigation of rapes and attempted rapes at the Air Force Academy, near Colorado Springs.

After each of these scandals, the military claimed it knew best how to handle the problem and proceeded to institute insignificant reforms that did little to reduce assaults among the troops. Now the generals are circling the wagons again, insisting that the legislation’s reasonable reforms would affect commanders’ ability to maintain “good order and discipline.” But, as Ms. Gillibrand noted, a military that suffered 26,000 sexual assaults within its ranks in the last year is already failing to maintain “good order and discipline.

Read full article here: 

Food for thought:  As Dr. King once said, “No Justice, No Peace”!  By ignoring complaints of crimes being committed; no matter the severity of the crime, simply tears at the very core of our democracy.   

Victims of military sex crimes live each day of our lives in shame, darkness and betrayal.  The only way we can wake up from this ghastly nightmare is for the highest office of our country-military to step in and intervene. 

Until the 1965 Equal Employment Opportunity Act is amended, the military’s top brass will continue to operate like the well trained machine that it is. Unless their moral compass is calibrated, our country will run the risk of being compromised, internally. This is a serious problem that should not be ignored. 

How can America continue to sustain a formidable defense department if our military leaders are not even willing to protect our young men and women within the ranks of our military?   Eventually the sexual predators who managed to avoid prosecution while in the military will be discharged, thus releasing an infectious cancer into the public society.  At this point, a financial burden will be imposed upon the American tax payers to foot the bill due to the incompetence of our military justice system.    I don’t get it, why is our government so backwards?!
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