Moral Low Ground

Society

8 Current & Former U.S. Servicewomen File Lawsuit Alleging Rape, Sexual Assault, Harassment and Retaliation

Eight current and former U.S. military servicewomen have filed a federal lawsuit against the Pentagon alleging they were raped, sexually assaulted and sexually harassed during their service. The suit also claims the women suffered from retaliation when they reported the alleged crimes to their superior officers.

The Associated Press reports that one active duty Marine and seven Navy and Marine Corps veterans filed the lawsuit Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Washington, D.C. Their lawsuit accuses the military of having a “high tolerance for sexual predators in their ranks” and of fostering a hostile environment that discourages sex abuse victims from reporting crimes. Worse, the suit claims that women who do come forward face punishment. The Pentagon, says the suit, has not adequately confronted the problem, despite public statements to the contrary.

Of the eight women, seven say they were raped or sexually assaulted by comrades, including in a commanding officer’s office. The eighth woman claims she was harassed and threatened while on an overseas deployment. When she notified a superior officer, she was told that “this happens all the time.”

As a result of their ordeals, the women say they suffer from depression and post-traumatic stress disorder. One says she tried to kill herself after being raped by a senior officer.

Ariana Klay, a former Marine Corps officers and a plaintiff in the suit, alleges she was raped in August 2010 by a senior officer and his civilian friend. After completing her tour of duty in Iraq, she reported the crime to Military Barracks in Washington, D.C. She says she was then falsely accused of adultery, called a “slut” and a “whore,” and told to “deal with it” by a superior officer. Klay was also told that she must have asked to be raped because of the clothing she wore. One of her alleged rapists was court-martialed, but he was only found guilty of the lesser infractions of indecent language and adultery. Klay was left so devastated by her ordeal that she tried to kill herself.

Elle Helmer, another plaintiff, says she was told she landed a public affairs job at the Marine Barracks because she was the “prettiest.” She claims she was sexually assaulted by her commanding officer after a St. Patrick’s Day pub crawl in Washington, D.C. in 2006. Helmer claims she was discouraged from submitting to a rape examination and told that she needed to “toughen up.” She found herself under investigation for public intoxication and conduct unbecoming. She left the Marines shortly thereafter.

“It took approximately 72 hours for the victim to become the accused in this example, and that was really the beginning of the Spanish Inquisition,” Helmer told the Associated Press.

“Are they saying we’re all lying? Are they saying it doesn’t happen? Hiding behind their rhetoric of zero tolerance is entirely cowardly and misleading and they know it,” she added.

Pentagon spokeswoman Cynthia Smith told the Associated Press that the military has zero tolerance for sexual assault. Smith listed a number of steps the military has taken to deal with the rape epidemic among the ranks, including allowing service members who report sex crimes to quickly transfer from their units and increased funding and specialized training for investigators and judge advocates.

Rape is a massive problem in the U.S. military. In 2010, there were 3,292 reported sexual assaults in the military, but 80% of assault victims never report the crimes, so the actual number of assaults is believed to be much higher.

This isn’t the first time service members have sued the Pentagon over alleged sex crimes. Last year, a group of 17 veterans, including two men, filed a suit alleging the Defense Department ignored reports of rape and sexual assault among the ranks.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Related Posts

Leave a reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

*

Douche Du Jour
  • GOP Congressman Robert Pittenger Says Charlotte Protesters ‘Hate White People Because They’re Successful’
  • Israel Nominates Col. Eyal Karim, Who Endorsed Rape of Non-Jews to ‘Boost Troop Morale,’ for Chief Military Rabbi
  • The Hateful 8: Anti-Gay Christian Leaders Praise Orlando Massacre
  • Koch Brother’s Youth Education Program Teaches ‘Sacrificing Lives for Profits’
  • Tracy Murphree, GOP Texas Sheriff Candidate, Threatens to Beat Transgender Women Unconscious
Archives