The sex assault problem in the military is turning out to be a poison that has infected every branch, and it just seems to be getting worse as more women enlist and rise through the ranks. Just when military women were celebrating the successful storming of the citadel and into the infantry, armor and artillery ranks, the Department of Defense announces that the estimated number of sex assaults are higher than ever.
What’s high? 3,000 a year? 15,000? Try 26,000 in 2012 alone, according to a new DoD survey released today.
From the USA Today report:
According to the Pentagon survey results, only about one in 10 victims who are sexually abused stepped forward to complain last year. That amounted to 3,374 cases in 2012, of which only about 3,000 chose to press charges. “Far fewer victims report sexual assault that are estimated to experience it on an annual basis,” says a written summary of the Pentagon findings.
The full Pentagon report on sexual abuse is scheduled for release some time this week. The summary was provided to USA TODAY.
The survey revealed that while the rate of men suffering sexual abuse has remained steady since 2010, the rate of female victims increased from about one in 23 to one 16 last year.
What’s startling about this is that the number went from 19,000 last year to 26,000. And remember, these are “estimates” the DoD is providing. They are either right on the money or conservative because the Pentagon has no real interest in overstating them. This is particularly huge, considering the timing: two additional sex assault stories were reported concerning the Air Force on the same day. The Air Force, coincidentally, is already the target of a massive ongoing investigation involving 12 instructors accused of systematically assaulting, harassing and/or raping female recruits at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas.
One of the trainers, Staff Sgt. Luis Walker, was accused of 28 criminal accounts, including rape and aggravated sexual assault involving ten recruits. He is now serving a 20 year prison sentence.
On Tuesday, it was revealed that a second Air Force general — this time a female general — was responsible for overturning a rape conviction of an officer, even after a jury of military officers had found him guilty and legal counsel had advised against it. The first was in February, when Lt. Gen. Craig A. Franklin, commander of the Third Air Force in Europe, tossed out the sexual assault conviction of a “star fighter pilot.” That case is under review under the direction of Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
The latest case involves Lt. Gen. Susan J. Helms, who intervened to grant clemency for Capt. Matthew Herrera, who was convicted of assaulting a junior non-commissioned officer in 2010.
Helms’ drew the ire of Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-MO., who looked into the previously undisclosed matter and is putting a hold on Helms’ promotion to the Air Force’s Space Command.
A woman astronaut who apparently made it all the way to the boys’ club — and now she can join them in the hot seat of shame, for ignoring legal counsel, wiping a convicted sex offender’s dirty record clean, and not having the guts to make her reasons public. In a memo quietly inserted into the case file, Helms, who has no legal background, wrote that the captain’s story was more credible than the victim’s. Case closed.
Antiwar has been writing about military sex abuse for some time. This writer has asked — somewhat rhetorically, but not really — why women are still enlisting, given that after 10 years of “shock integrating” women into traditional war roles, the military has done nothing to transform the culture so that this institutional misogyny is no longer tolerated, whether baldly with official exonerations and clemencies, or with the winks and nods that lead to harassment and abuse that is never rebuked much less reported or punished.
It’s the kind of culture that leads to this guy being busted for groping a poor girl in a parking lot, loaded out of his mind.
And he was the Air Force sexual assault prevention officer.
Sec. Hagel is said to be furious over Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinksi’s arrest. Let’s hope he can channel that anger into something real.