Rape Victims Say US Military Justice System has Failed Them

LazyLion

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Former US troops who were raped during their time in uniform recounted their traumatic experiences at a Senate hearing and demanded changes to the military's justice system.

Four victims, three women and a man, told lawmakers Wednesday in poignant testimony how they had been sexually assaulted and harassed, that their attackers had escaped punishment and that they suffered retaliation and intimidation under a legal code that offered them little recourse.

"The military criminal justice system is broken," Rebekah Havrilla, a former Army sergeant, told lawmakers.

Havrilla said she was raped by a member of her unit at the end of her tour in Afghanistan in 2007, where she served as a bomb disposal specialist.

Her rapist later posted photos of her online taken at the time of the assault, prompting her to report the crime to military authorities.

But despite having to describe her ordeal through hours of uncomfortable questioning by investigators, her attacker was never punished.

At one point, she sought out help from an Army chaplain.

But the chaplain "told me, among other things, that the rape was God's will and that God was trying to get my attention so that I would go back to church," she said.

The former soldier and fellow victims told the Senate Armes Services subcommittee on personnel that the military's legal code had to be changed so that commanding officers are not allowed to wield authority over cases involving their subordinates.

"What we need is a military with a fair and impartial criminal justice system, one that is run by professional legal experts, not unit commanders," Havrilla said.

Lawmakers at the hearing agreed and later grilled military lawyers and officials at a second hearing over a recent case that saw an Air Force general overturn a guilty verdict against Lieutenant Colonel James Wilkerson, who had faced a one-year prison sentence over sexual assault charges.

Amid outrage among lawmakers, Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel has ordered a review of the Wilkerson case as well as the military rules that grant authority to commanding officers to reverse verdicts.

Senator Kirsten Gillibrand, a Democrat from New York who presided over the hearing, called the Wilkerson case shocking and said the military's response to the problem was untenable.

"Too often, women and men have found themselves in the fight of their lives," she said. "Not in the theater of war but in their own ranks, among their own brothers and sisters and ranking officers in an environment that enables sexual assault."

Some lawmakers are pushing for legislation that would strip commanding officers of authority over decisions by juries and judges at court-martial proceedings.


Source : Sapa-AFP /pk
Date : 14 Mar 2013 08:58
 

LazyLion

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Officer in charge of Rape Prevention arrested

A US Air Force officer in charge of preventing sexual attacks has been arrested for assaulting a woman, police said Monday, in the latest setback for a force struggling to stem a pervasive rape problem.

Lieutenant Colonel Jeff Krusinski, head of the Air Force's sexual assault prevention and response program, was drunk when he "approached a female victim in a parking lot and grabbed her breasts and buttocks," according to a police report from Arlington, Virginia, just outside the US capital.

"The victim fought the suspect off as he attempted to touch her again and alerted police," police said.

Krusinski, 41, was charged with sexual battery and held on a $5,000 bond, it said.

Air Force officials confirmed to AFP that Krusinski was head of the service's prevention program and said he has been removed from his post.

The Air Force has come under severe criticism after a general recently tossed out a sexual conviction from a court martial against a fighter pilot, Lieutenant Colonel James Wilkerson.

And the Air Force has been reeling from a scandal at its main training center in Lackland, Texas, where more than a dozen training instructors have been accused of misconduct with recruits, including sexual assault.

Lawmakers have slammed the Air Force and the broader military over sexual assault cases, saying the Pentagon has failed to come to grips with the problem.


Source : Sapa-AFP /aw
Date : 07 May 2013 00:15
 
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