How Bad Is Sexual Abuse In The U.S. Military?
Army Spc. Sarah Reyes’ instincts had always prompted her to run toward danger, not away from it.
“I am terrified that my story isn’t good enough … that it doesn’t represent what’s going on,” Reyes said. But despite that fear, she is speaking out for the first time, telling CNN she hopes her words can help others.
U.S. military fails to protect children from sexual abuse on bases
A decade after the Pentagon began confronting rape in the ranks, the U.S. military frequently fails to protect or provide justice to the children of service members when they are sexually assaulted by other children on base, an Associated Press investigation has found.
Reports of assaults and rapes among kids on military bases often die on the desks of prosecutors, even when an attacker confesses. Other cases don’t make it that far because criminal investigators shelve them, despite requirements they be pursued.
The Pentagon does not know the scope of the problem and does little to track it.
AP was able to document nearly 600 sex assault cases on base since 2007 through dozens of interviews and by piecing together records and data from the military’s four main branches and school system.
Sexual violence occurs anywhere children and teens gather on-base
Homes, schools, playgrounds, food courts, even a chapel bathroom. Many cases get lost in a dead zone of justice, with neither victim nor offender receiving help.
“These are the children that we need to be protecting, the children of our heroes,” said Heather Ryan, a former military investigator.
“The military is designed to kill people and break things,” said former Army criminal investigator Russell Strand, one of the military’s pioneering experts on sexual assault. “The primary mission, it’s not to deal with kids sexually assaulting kids on federal property.”
Leandra Mulla said neither the Army nor the school offered her any help, such as counseling.
“The military is a great field to be in,” she said. “But they just like to cover up what goes on because they have an expectation and they try to uphold an image.”
How sexual assault reports are handled can hinge on personality and rank.
Whether their child is the accused or accuser, higher-ranking families receive more consideration, several former military investigators and lawyers told AP. Supervisors with kids of their own were more likely to push an investigation, they said, while in Army offices preoccupied with case backlogs investigators would stash less serious allegations in a “raw data” file, where they languished
The tens of thousands of kids who live on bases in the U.S. and abroad are not covered by military law. The U.S. Justice Department, which has jurisdiction over many military bases, isn’t equipped or inclined to handle cases involving juveniles, so it rarely takes them on. Full Story
Rape Prevalent in Afghanistan?
“At night we can hear them screaming, but we’re not allowed to do anything about it,” the Marine’s father, Gregory Buckley Sr., recalled his son telling him before he was shot to death at the base in 2012. He urged his son to tell his superiors. “My son said that his officers told him to look the other way because it’s their culture.”
“The reason we were here is because we heard the terrible things the Taliban were doing to people, how they were taking away human rights,” said Dan Quinn, a former Special Forces captain who beat up an American-backed militia commander for keeping a boy chained to his bed as a sex slave. “But we were putting people into power who would do things that were worse than the Taliban did — that was something village elders voiced to me.”
Rampant sexual abuse of children has long been a problem in Afghanistan,
Particularly among armed commanders who dominate much of the rural landscape and can bully the population. The practice is called bacha bazi, literally “boy play,” and American soldiers and Marines have been instructed not to intervene — in some cases, not even when their Afghan allies have abused boys on military bases, according to interviews and court records. Full Story
Were U.S. troops forced to overlook Afghan child rape?
The two U.S. soldiers say they used physical force to drive home their message to the Afghan police commander who had been sexually abusing a boy.
“I picked him up, threw him to the ground multiple times and Charles did the same thing,” Dan Quinn, who was a U.S. Army captain at the time, told CNN. “We basically had to make sure that he fully understood that if he ever went near that boy or his mother again, there was going to be hell to pay.”
They had directly confronted a thorny issue for U.S. forces in Afghanistan:
“The reason we weren’t able to step in with these local rape cases was we didn’t want to undermine the authority of the local government,” Quinn said. “We were trying to build up the local government. Us acting after the local government fails to can certainly undermine their credibility.“We have never had a policy in place that directs any military member, or any government personnel overseas to ignore human rights abuses,” spokesman Capt. Jeff Davis said. “Any sexual abuse, no matter who the alleged perpetrator and no matter who the victim, is completely unacceptable and reprehensible.”“I had a boy because every commander had one,” Mestary, a former commander of the Northern Alliance that fought against the Taliban, said in a PBS documentary, “The Dancing Boys of Afghanistan,” in 2010. “There’s competition amongst the commanders. If I didn’t have a boy, I couldn’t compete with the others.” Full Story
A Victim’s Perspective Of Rape & Sexual Abuse In The U.S. Military
Sexual Abuse In The U.S. Military Is Still A Major Issue
In the report to be released Thursday, Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand of New York said “despite years of congressional reforms, our men and women in uniform still do not have confidence in the military justice system.” Fewer sexual assault cases are going to trial, she said, and those that do are generating fewer convictions.
Gillibrand, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee, examined internal legal documents from 238 sexual assault cases that were adjudicated in 2015 at four of the largest military installations in the United States: the Army’s Fort Hood in Texas, Naval Station Norfolk in Virginia, the Marine Corps’ Camp Pendleton in California and Wright-Patterson Air Force Base in Ohio.
In what she described as a shocking outcome, Gillibrand said there were no examples in the records from those bases of disciplinary action being taken against anyone who retaliated against a person who reported a sexual assault. She said that conflicted with Pentagon surveys that found more than half of all victims across the vast Defense Department enterprise experienced negative reactions or reprisal for their complaints.
“There appears to be an inherent bias when commanders make military justice decisions in these cases, and because of this, the disposition authority must be taken out of the chain of command and placed in the hands of trained, unbiased military lawyers,” her report stated.
But senior Pentagon officials have opposed her plan, as has Sen. John McCain, R-Ariz., the chairman of the Armed Services Committee. They’ve argued that commanders are essential to maintaining good order and discipline in the ranks. Removing them would mean fewer sex offenders will be caught and convicted, they said.
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