The Army is investigating its coordinator of the sexual assault prevention program at Fort Hood, Texas, for allegations of sexual misconduct, the Associated Press reported on Tuesday.
This comes a week after the Air Force’s chief of sexual assault prevention was charged with groping a woman. Lt. Col. Jeffrey Krusinski is accused of sexually assaulting a woman while drunk in a Northern Virginia parking lot.
Days after Krusinski’s arrest, the Pentagon released a survey that estimates that 26,000 women and men in the military were sexually assaulted in 2012 – up 35 percent since 2010.
President Barack Obama has pressured the Pentagon to crack down on sex offenders. Last week, he told reporters: “The bottom line is, I have no tolerance for this. … If we find out somebody’s engaging in this stuff, they’ve got to be held accountable, prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonorably discharged – period.”
But for some, military justice comes down to the culture that governs the military – the chain of command.
Some lawmakers, such as Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., and Sen. Claire McCaskill, D-Mo., argue that victims refrain from reporting assaults because they have to report the crimes to their bosses. Removing that requirement would encourage victims to come forward, they say.
“If a victim does not believe that the system is capable of believing her, there’s no point in risking your entire career,” McCaskill said in a May 7 hearing.
But Pentagon leaders say they are not open to that change.
“It is my strong belief that the ultimate authority has to remain within the command structure,” said Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel.
While Hagel outlined measures to hold commanders accountable for creating a safe environment, he also said removing assault reports from the chain of command would undermine order.
You can watch how this issue plays out in the I Files excerpt (at the top of this post) from the 2012 documentary “The Invisible War.”
Filmmaker Kirby Dick interviewed hundreds of servicewomen and men who had reported assaults and followed what happened afterward.
“Females would have to come up to their commanders … and say that they were sexually assaulted or abused,” recalls retired Capt. Greg Rinckey, who served in the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General Corps. “And I don’t think it was taken seriously.”
“I think a lot of time, a cursory investigation was done, and they were basically told to just suck it up.”
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