Military Fails Miserably At Stopping Sexual Assaults

Attorney Susan Burke and retired Air Force Staff Sgt. Colleen Bushnell join Current TV’s John Fugelsang to react to a Pentagon report that shows an increase in the number of reported sexual crimes in the military between 2012 and 2011.

Attorney Susan Burke and retired Air Force Staff Sgt. Colleen Bushnell join Current TV’s John Fugelsang to react to a Pentagon report that shows an increase in the number of reported sexual crimes in the military between 2012 and 2011.

Bushnell describes her experience navigating the military justice system after reporting that she had been the victim of sexual assault. “There were systems put in place that appeared to be as if they were support systems, but they’re not empowered to actually help the victim,” Bushnell says. “Currently the way the system works is very perpetrator centric, rather than victim-centric.”

UPDATE: Laura Clawson over at Daily Kos reports:

At a Senate Armed Services Committee hearing Tuesday, Air Force Chief of Staff General Mark Welsh:

... appeared to blame broader society, noting that 20% of women report they had been sexually assaulted "before they came into the military.""So they come in from a society where this occurs," he said. "Some of it is the hookup mentality of junior high even and high school students now, which my children can tell you about from watching their friends and being frustrated by it."

That's right, a hookup culture of consensual sexual encounters is to blame for high rates of sexual assault in the military coupled with low rates of reporting of said sexual assaults and low rates of conviction in the rare cases that are reported. Also, apparently the fact that sexual assault is too common outside the military is a decent excuse for high rates of sexual assault in the military. If you're Gen. Mark Welsh and you're looking to blame women for the appalling rates of sexual assault taking place under your command.

So we can safely say that the understanding of and concern about sexual assault at the highest levels of the Air Force is ... lacking. Pitifully, offensively lacking. It's not just Welsh and Krusinski, either. Two different three-star generals in the Air Force have overturned sexual assault convictions in recent cases. In one, Lt. Gen. Susan Helms, President Obama's nominee for vice commander of the Air Force's Space Command, overturned a verdict of aggravated sexual assault against a captain; "In a memo that recently came to light, she explained that in reading through the evidence, she found the captain’s defense credible." The jury didn't, but screw that, Lt. Gen. Helms did.

Similarly, Lt. Col. James Wilkerson was sentenced to a year in prison and dismissal by a jury of male Air Force officers. Only then Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin "declined to approve the conviction because he did not think that there was enough evidence to say that he was guilty," according to a spokesman.

All of which raises the question: Who's going to be the three-star general to overturn Krusinski's conviction, should he be convicted? The Air Force is already asserting jurisdiction over his case, so the stage is set.

About Diane Sweet

Diane Sweet's picture
Senior Editor, Lives in a gerrymandered district in Michigan.

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