When I asked a retired four-star general, off the record about the overwhelming statistics of sexual assault in the military, he responded, “We got this. Shari, we got this.”
Respectfully sir, “No, you do NOT HAVE THIS!”
And this got me in full warrior mode…
- 85% of Military Victims KNEW ASSAILANT.
- We are weary of the military’s weak and tepid response to sexual assault in their ranks.
- The armed forces can deploy aircraft carriers to the Gulf within 24 hours. They are capable of flawless military intelligence, can engage in warfare around the globe. Use the most sophisticated out-of-this-world technology, but are helpless in the fight against sexual violence against the young women under their command? Really? What would you do if one of your female soldiers was captured by the enemy and threatened with sexual violence? You’d move heaven and earth. Engage Special Forces and crack Seal teams to rescue her from harm’s way, but then you do nothing when that same sexual violence is perpetrated by one of your own?
- 62% of Sexual Assault cases INVOLVED ALCOHOL
Any person who sexually assaults someone who is incapacitated cannot use the defense of consent. Consent from someone too incapacitated to give legally binding consent cannot be a defense to sexual violence.
- Survivors of sexual assault in the military are tired of everyone saying something needs to be done, but nobody doing anything. We serve our country.
- “CONGRESS MUST LEAD THE WAY FORCING THE DEPARMTENT OF DEFENSE TO TAKE MORE AGGRESSIVE APPROACHES TO FIGHTING THIS SCOURAGE.”
- Acting Defense Secretary Patrick M. Shanahan called for sweeping changes in the way the military handles sexual assaults and harassment following a reported 38% increase in assaults from 2016 to 2018. “To put it bluntly, we are not performing to the standards and expectations we have for ourselves or for each other.”
Really, Defense Secretary Shanahan, ‘not performing to the standards expected’ is a very low bar. When a bartender forgets the twist of lemon in your martini, that’s not performing to the standards expected. But doing nothing about women experiencing sexual violence while under your command and while serving our country is a crime against humanity that men of honor like yourself should be ashamed to stand for. Yet you stand for it. You back it. You enable it. You say you are ‘very concerned.’ I’m concerned when my teenage son doesn’t clean the cat box. If my daughter is at risk of being sexually assaulted, I’m more than concerned. I will protect her like a lioness protecting her cub. I will fight to the death to save my child from a lifetime of PTSD, depression, trauma, alcohol and drug dependency, a crushed soul, a life of fear and distrust and shame. And so should you. We entrust our children to you. You are our commanding officer.
So, keep running your Wanted Warriors Digital Ads Trying to Get Gen Z to Enlist
Or better yet, put in your new slick military enlist now “Warriors Wanted” campaign aimed at young women. The promise, all stars and stripes, and sexy fighter jets and eye-popping alluring technology, with come on language to entice young Gen Z women, 17-24. But why not add some truth to the glitz blitz campaign? What if your advertising was truthful? Why don’t you tell women that if they enlist as a wanted warrior, they have a 1-in-8 chance of being sexually assaulted or raped while serving their country? That 1-in-4 of you will experience sexual harassment. Let’s see how the truth does for your recruitment efforts. I don’t think it will perform to standards and expectations.
Sen. McSally reveals Air Force rape, ‘felt powerless’ PICTURE
Does the Military Have the Same Laws and Legal System as Ordinary Civilians?
No, this is part of the problem. The military is guided by a unique code of justice, called “The Uniform Code of Military Justice” (“UCMJ) with its own court system, special military lawyers called Judge Advocates or (JAG), military judges (JAG Corps), military procedures, laws, regulations and even their own prison system.
Does the Military Have Their Own Judges, Military Attorneys, and Military Laws?
Yes, it’s called The Judge Advocates General’s Corps (JAG Corps) and is the brand or specialty of a military concerned with military justice and military laws. Officers serve in a JAG Corps are typically called judge advocates. They are the lawyers who represent the sexual assault servicewoman and also the accused.
What Laws Govern the Military?
The Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) defines the military justice system and lists criminal offenses under military law. The law requires the President of the United States, acting as commander-in-chief of the Armed Forces, to write rules and regulations to implement military law.
What Types of Actions Are Tried by the JAG Corp (Military Courts)?
Usually, the military court governed by the UCMJ tries cases for criminal offenses. There are specific offenses, which if violated, can result in punishment by court-martial. Victims may have civil cases as well if other local laws in the state where the sexual assault occurred were broken, such as rape, and sexual assault.
What about Civil Cases For Sexual Assault in the Military?
If a victim of sexual assault wants to sue her abuser civilly for money damages in a state court of law, she may. However, the record for the criminal military case tried under the UCMJ is generally admissible in the civil case. Further, the SOL (statute of limitations) time limits when actions can be brought, often bar victims the same way for all victims of sexual assault and violence. The SOL victims need to look at is the time period allowed for such civil lawsuits in the state where the sexual assault happened. If you were stationed in Alabama when you were sexually assaulted on base, it is Alabama state law that will control if you file a civil lawsuit. It is Military Law, UCMJ that will prevail for a criminal trial against your
Based on the survey for 2018:
- Sexual assault rate for women was at the highest level, 6%, since 2006. The rate ranged from 4% in the Air Force to 11% in the Marine Corps.
- The odds of a woman experiencing a sexual assault were highest for the youngest women – from 17 to 20 years old. Those odds were 1 in 8.
- In 96% of the cases, the alleged offender was a man. The offender most often was one person (64%), a military member (89%) and a friend or acquaintance (62%).
- Nearly 1 in 4 of all women experienced an “unhealthy climate” because of sexual harassment, which was up in the survey. About 16% of all women faced an “unhealthy climate” because of gender discrimination, also up.
Nathan Galbreath, deputy director of the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, called the increase in 2018 a “tripwire” that should prompt the Pentagon to act. “We’re very concerned about that,” Galbreath said.
The latest report on sexual assaults requires Congress to intervene, said Rep. Jackie Speier, D-Calif., the chairwoman of the Armed Services Committee’s personnel panel.
“The department must accept that current programs are simply not working,” Speier said. “Congress must lead the way in forcing the department to take more aggressive approaches to fighting this scourge.”
We agree with Chairwoman Rep. Jackie Speier.
How about zero tolerance and actually mean it? Not 85%, not 75% not 92% but zero tolerance for sexual assault whether it’s your commanding officer, his superior, his superior’s superior, an enlistee or a four-star general.
Believe me, that will go a long way to solve this “very concerning” problem. If there are unrelenting consequences enforced as a matter of law and policy, several things will happen. First, Predators will stop because the risk is too high. Second, they justly accused perpetrators will be thrown out of the military and that will save future generations of enlistees from sexual violence. Three, the military will no longer be an attractive place for those with sexual predator appetites and fetishes. Look at the Catholic Church if you want to see your future U.S. Military. If you continue to do nothing because you protest and say, “We’ve got this.” You do have it, and you will get it. A huge friggin mess where women with a scintilla of options will NOT choose the military and neither will her parents allow or encourage it.
CIVIL RIGHTS FOR WOUNDED WARRIORS
We need to go to war for our wounded warriors. We must pass civil rights for wanted and then discarded warriors. Military Victims of sexual assault should be given full access to Federal Courts. These cases should be tried by career prosecutors. There should be no SOL for sexual violence. Victims should be able to file civil lawsuits against the United States government for its failure to protect them from sexual abuse while under their care.
Enough is enough. Enough mea culpa is done by WASPY military men. With their gray crew cuts, immaculate uniform, steely blue eyes, lean frame, brilliant minds filled with excuses, mewing like lost kittens handwringing platitudes like “the results are disturbing.” Really, all you can say about a 38% increase in sexual assault against enlisted women ages 17-24 is that it’s “disturbing?” Having your pizza delivered cold is disturbing. These are egregious crimes against women. The trauma of sexual violence is life stealing. Victims are more likely to commit suicide, struggle with alcohol and drug dependency, depression, PTSD, anxiety. Self-hatred, self-blame, self-abuse. The military knows it, because they just put out an SOS to all dog trainers. They need help in training service dogs for military vets so traumatized by sexual assault that the dogs are now being called, “Self-Assault Service Dogs.” And the Acting Department of Defense Secretary calls it ‘Disturbing.’ It’s like calling waterboarding or having your fingernails torn out of the nail bed ‘disturbing.’
It’s time to step up Generals, Lieutenant Generals, Major Generals, Brigadier Generals, Colonels, Lieutenant Colonel, Majors, Captains, and First Lieutenants, Senators, Congresspeople, The President of the United States and the American people. Do your job. You ask men and woman of courage to give their lives to protect our country, our constitution, our democracy, and then leave them like trash on the sidewalk of shame, blame, PTSD, depression, and despair when they are sexually violated while protecting you.
You are hypocrites in striking uniforms, all talk, and no action. If you aren’t men of action, who will be? Your job, your careers have been dedicated to protecting God and country. Don’t women count? Aren’t sexual abuse, rape, and sexual violence worthy of conscionable action?
Protect these innocent, fresh enlistees near teenagers 17-24 from sexual violence that you fully know they will face the barracks, at boot camp, on the battlefield, or on base. Protect them from your colleagues, your superiors, from other enlistees. Do your job. If you want to attract warriors, you must be warriors.
Yet, where is the public outrage? Where are the patriotic men and women who wear the American flag at “Make America Great Rallies,” who weep during the national anthem, participate in Veterans Day parades, wave the American flag with gusto? Where are the mothers, fathers, sisters, and brothers, of these sexually assaulted women who did nothing more than serving their country? Where are the Republicans who pretend to stand for military honor, who opine about God and country, who send sons and daughters off to war, who kiss the coffins of the fallen? Please stand up and demand that the military take action to educate, prevent, eradicate and bring to justice those that sexually abuse while serving. Please support victims suffering from sexual harassment PTSD. Demand from your brethren zero tolerance for sexual assault. Demand justice if your loved one is a victim of this evil crime. This is a crime against humanity. It had no place in patriotic duty. It’s pure evil; it’s pure predation upon the young and helpless, the enlisted, wide-eyed children, now training to go to battle to protect God and Country. Have you no decency gentlemen?
And lastly, is this how we thank women in the military for their service?
“Being sexually abused at such an early age was the scar on my soul. But I feel like it ultimately made me into the person I am today. I understand the journey of life. I had to go through what I went through to be here. But now it’s time to take action to save the next generation of women and children from what we went the
Shari Karney is a survivor’s attorney. She represents victims of child sexual abuse by sexual predators such as a member of the clergy, a teacher, celebrity, sports coach, wealthy businessman or any other powerful person, Karney Law is here for you.