Eight current and former members of the military allege in a new federal lawsuit that they were raped, assaulted, or harassed during their service and suffered retaliation when they reported it to their superiors. The lawsuit, filed last month in US District Court in Washington, accuses the military of having a “high tolerance for sexual predators in their ranks’’ and fostering a hostile environment that discourages victims of sexual assault from coming forward, and punishes them when they do. The suit contends the Defense Department has failed to take aggressive steps to confront the problem despite public statements suggesting otherwise.
The eight women include an active-duty enlisted Marine and seven others who served in the Navy and Marine Corps. The women allege they have suffered depression, anxiety, and posttraumatic stress disorder because of the assaults. One woman said she tried to commit suicide after being raped inside her home by a senior officer and his civilian friend.
It is important that everyone in uniform be alert to the problem and have the leadership training to help prevent these crimes. The lawsuit names as Defendants past and present military leaders, including Defense Secretary Leon Panetta and his predecessors. A Defense Department spokeswoman said the military has no tolerance for sexual assault. Under a policy announced in December, service members who report a sexual assault have the option of quickly transferring to another unit or installation.
The Department has also increased funding for investigators and judge advocates to receive specialized training in sexual assault cases and has appointed a two-star officer to direct a sexual assault response and prevention office. The Pentagon is assembling a data system to track reports of sexual assault and is reviewing how commanding officers are trained in preventing and responding to rape cases.
Source: Boston Globe
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