Military Sexual Assault Report From The Academies

Courtesy Dept. of Defense

There’s a bit of good news, but more not-so-good news in this year’s Annual Report on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Military Service Academies just released by the U.S. Department of Defense.

The good news comes from the Air Force Academy “which received 32 reports of sexual assault (15 Unrestricted and 17 Restricted Reports) down from 49 reports in academic program year 2014-2015” according to the report.

But there were increased incidents from both the U.S. Military Academy and the U.S. Naval Academy:

The Military Academy received 26 reports (20 Unrestricted and 6 Restricted Reports) up from 17 reports and the Naval Academy received 28 reports (20 Unrestricted and 8 Restricted Reports) up from 25 reports in academic program year 2014- 2015.

Another conclusion by the report, 89 percent of cadets and midshipmen who experienced sexual harassment or gender discrimination report it was committed by another academy student. The full report in PDF is available here.

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Researching Military Sexual Assault Prevention

Diane Price-Herndl, chair of the USF Women and Gender Studies and the Women's Status Committee.

Diane Price-Herndl, chair of the USF Women and Gender Studies and the Women’s Status Committee.

One in every five women and one in every 100 men have told the VA that they experienced sexual trauma while serving in the military.

Those numbers have both the Department of Defense and Department of Veterans Affairs working on solutions for treatment and the prevention of Military Sexual Trauma (MST).

The head of the Women and Gender Studies and the Women’s Status Committee at the University of South Florida, Diane Price-Herndl, thinks her academic expertise can help with healing and prevention.

“This is a place where academics have not done our due diligence,” Price-Herndl said. “We’ve got men and women in the service who are suffering. And they are suffering from things that ostensibly my discipline studies and works on.”

She said Women and Gender Studies has done a lot of research on sexual assault in the general population that might prove helpful for the problem in the military.

Credit: Iowa VA

Credit: Iowa VA

So, Price-Herndl is starting that discussion at a one-day symposium on Military Sexual Trauma planned April 8 at USF Marshall Student Center in Tampa.

The idea is to share strategies and research across disciplines and agencies. Researchers from Bay Pines VA and James A. Haley VA will join USF academics from nursing, theater, and other departments. Each will present their current research on MST and there will be a chance to brainstorm.

One session will explore a project Price-Herndl is developing, The Witness Project. It hopes to archive and use the written and oral stories of military sexual trauma survivors as teaching tools for prevention programs developed for the Department of Defense.

Additionally, a round-table is planned at the conclusion of the symposium will take up the problem of sexual assault among the general population on college campuses.

For details on “USF Responds to Military Sexual Trauma: A Research Symposium,” contact Diane Price-Herndl at  priceherndl@usf.edu .

General Pleads Guilty to Adultry, Still Faces Assault Charges

Courtesy of the Policy Front and Center.org

Courtesy of the Policy Front and Center.org

The NPR blog that reports breaking news, The Two-Way,  has posted this item:

Army Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair pleaded guilty to adultery and two other charges in a court martial proceeding on Thursday, but he still faces the most serious charge of sexually assaulting a female captain.

Sinclair, 51, a former deputy commander with the 82ndAirborne Division, admitted to an extramarital affair with the captain and “inappropriate relationships” with two other women. Adultery is considered an offense under military law. He also pleaded guilty to possessing pornography while stationed in Afghanistan, a violation of orders in the conservative Muslim country, The Associated Press reports.

The New York Times says decision to plead guilty to possessing pornography “came after Army prosecutors made it clear on Wednesday that they wanted to show the military jury reams of pornography that they said General Sinclair had illegally watched in Afghanistan. It would illustrate, they said, sexual desires that led him to assault a junior officer.”

You can read the full post here.

Defense Secretary Attends Military Sexual Assault Panel

Former Sen. Chuck Hagel served in the senate from 1997-2009 representing Nebraska. Photo credit: Congress.com

Former Sen. Chuck Hagel served in the senate from 1997-2009 representing Nebraska. Photo credit: Congress.com

Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel made clear “that his goal is to eradicate the crime of sexual assault from the military, and that he is open to all their ideas on how to accomplish this objective,” according to a readout from the Pentagon.

Pentagon Press Secretary George Little provided the written comments about the secretary’s meeting with the panel today.

The Response Systems to Adult Sexual Assault Crimes Panel is charged with conducting an independent review and assessment of the systems used to investigate, prosecute, and adjudicate crimes involving sexual assault and related offenses under the Uniform Code of Military Justice.

It will develop recommendations to improve the effectiveness of those systems.

Hagel believes the panel’s findings and recommendations will play a critical role in ensuring that the department, working closely with Congress, makes well-informed decisions to improve sexual assault response and prevention — considering all the options on the table.

“The Secretary asked the panel to work deliberately and carefully, based on thorough research and analysis, but also emphasized the importance of acting quickly.  He pledged the department’s full support for the panel’s efforts,” according to the Little press readout.

“In addition to today’s meeting, Secretary Hagel continues to hold regular weekly meetings of the top civilian and military leadership of the department focused solely on sexual assault prevention and response efforts.”

Air Force Trains Advocates for Sexual Assault Victims

Courtesy Dept. of Defense

Courtesy Dept. of Defense

The Air Force has taken a page out of the civilian court handbook by creating advocates for victims of military sexual trauma (MST).

The hope is by providing an advocate – Special Victims’ Counsels (SVC) – victims will be more willing to report assaults and testify in military court according to NPR’s Larry Abramson.

“We know 85 percent of our victims don’t report,” Lt. Gen. Richard Harding says. “Maybe if they understood the value of an SVC, some of them might feel a little bit more comfortable about reporting.”

That’s the long-term hope for the Special Victims’ Counsel program, which is currently limited to the Air Force but could expand to other services. The immediate goal is to train around 50 lawyers who will help victims get through the legal process.

You can listen to the full NPR story here.

The Department of Defense has a three-part Safe Helpline campaign to help any military member who has been the victim of military sexual assault. Continue reading

Army Brigadier General Faces Sexual Assault Charges

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair

An Army brigadier general who served five combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan has been charged with forcible sodomy, multiple counts of adultery and having inappropriate relationships with several female subordinates, two U.S. defense officials told the Associated Press Wednesday.

Brig. Gen. Jeffrey A. Sinclair faces possible courts martial. Sinclair served as deputy commander in charge of logistics and support for the 82nd Airborne Division in Afghanistan. He was sent home in May because of the allegations, according to officials who AP agreed to not name.

In a brief press conference at Fort Bragg today, spokesman Col. Kevin Arata read a prepared statement and refused to take any questions.

Sinclair, a trained paratrooper who has been in the Army for 27 years, was serving his third deployment to Afghanistan. He had also served two tours in Iraq, as well as a tour in the first Gulf war.

The AP reports that it’s rare for an Army general to face court martial. There have been only two cases in recent years. One for wearing unauthorized awards or ribbons and making a false statement. The other was for making a false statement connected to adultery.

Military Sexual Assault: A film, a Survivor and Support

Photo courtesy of VA.gov

A total of 3,192 sexual assaults were reported in 2011 involving military personnel as victims or subjects according to the 2011 Department of Defense Sexual Assault Report released earlier this month:

“Sexual assault has no place in this department.  It is an affront to the basic American values we defend, and to the good honor of our service members and their families,” said Defense Secretary Leon E. Panetta.

A Free Film Screening

“Uniform Betrayal Rape in the Military,” a HealthyState.org documentary, is scheduled for a free showing open to the public on Monday, Tampa April 23, 2012, at 11 a.m. It will be followed by a panel discussion at the WUSF TV studios, 4202 E. Fowler Ave, and appearances by the filmmakers, Jennifer Molina and Sarah Pusateri.

Continue reading

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