U.S. Military: “a system where there’s no intervention or punishment for sexual assault”

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Commentary by Marie Tessier, via the Women’s Media Center:

… Until late last week, Brakey was the only woman to see her sexual assault allegations proceed to a court-martial from widely reported Air Force Academy revelations in 2003, though more than 100 women came forward to report assaults in the previous decade. The charges against Air Force Capt. Joseph J. Harding were dismissed Friday afternoon, however, following a long dispute over rape shield law. Harding attorney David Sheldon says delays in the case”did a disservice not only to Capt. Harding but also the administration of fair justice,”according to the Associated Press. Sheldon also represents one of the soldiers charged in the Iraqi case.

Not one person has been convicted of rape from the Air Force Academy reports, though a change of venue to a civilian court in Colorado remains possible in the Harding case. One cadet, still at the academy but his future uncertain, pleaded guilty to”indecent acts”and other military conduct offenses. His sentence: a reprimand and a $2,000 fine.

Three years after the public and Congress demanded reform, sexual assaults remain a persistent fact of life in the military, figures from the Pentagon’s Office of Sexual Assault Prevention and Response show.”The system facilitates the crime because it’s never punished,”says Wendy Murphy, a victim rights attorney who represents Jessica Brakey and her civilian therapist.”They have wanted her case to disappear since the beginning.”…

…”The numbers of sexual assaults being reported indicates that these individuals are not rogues,”says Christine Hansen, executive director of the Miles Foundation, a service and advocacy agency for victims of sexual and domestic violence related to the U.S. military.”These are men who utilized the training and tactics of the armed forces when they stalked this young woman and killed the family, and they were part of a system where there’s no intervention or punishment for sexual assault.”…

…”All of this starts with disrespect for women,”says Hansen, the victim advocate.”These guys never see a deterrent or a punishment that would require them to change their behavior.”

–Stephanie Farrior

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