Military Sexual Trauma lawsuit — the day after.

Originally posted in Community Blog

Imagine if you were the CEO of a large company and a lawsuit was just filed against you by one of the nation’s most powerful lawyer on behalf of seventeen former employees. Your former employees claim that they were raped by fellow colleagues while being employed by your company and that their allegations resulted in them being fired while the rapists were still being employed by the company. Every major media in the world from the Washington Post to the China Times made mention of the story detailing first person detail of the rape. All eyes are now on your company waiting for it to respond to the lawsuit and correct it mistakes.

That is exactly what has happened this past Tuesday to the United States Military when seventeen service members filed a lawsuit against Robert Gates and Donald Rumsfeld for knowingly allowing service members to be raped and further abused after reporting a rape. Less than forty-eight hours later the military responded through their actions.

The day after the lawsuit Maj. Gen. David Quantock of Fort Leonard Wood said: “Young kids make mistakes…But they have to understand that in the Army, those mistakes . . . will not be tolerated.” This sort of mentality is exactly what this lawsuit is trying to change. Rape is just a mistake, admit that you learned from your mistake and we’ll continue to give you a slap on the wrist each time you make this mistake.Rape is NOT a mistake. A rape is not an OOOPS I forced my dick into you. It is a violent act and a felony and should be treated as such.

A rape survivor of the United States Coast Guard been in the long process of joining the Coast Guard Auxiliary, a volunteer, non-paid civilian-based Coast Guard group, finally gathering the strength to join she contacted her local Flotilla weeks ago and was invited to attend their orientation meeting on Wednesday; the day after the lawsuit was filed. The meeting was held on a Coast Guard base. Despite being on the approved list of attendees she was turned away at the gate without reasons why except “you are barred from the base”. Rear Admiral Daniel Neptun of Coast Guard Boston has put an order in to forbid her from going on base. When asked why-the Officer of the Day on duty, Petty Office First Class Sanchez said “you know why.” Actually she does not know why, was it because she reported a rape or was it because she went public with the rape? Either way reporting a rape and using her constitutional rights to speak publicly about her rape doesn’t merit a reason to bar her for attending the event, especially since she had an invite from the CG Auxiliary.

On the Today Show, Dr. Kaye Whitley, spoke proudly of improvements made to the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program including a new on-line chat option called Safe Helpline that gives survivors the chance to talk to “qualified” professionals about military sexual trauma over the Internet. After an hour and a half wait I was finally able to speak to someone.

*note, this is a fictional case used for research purposes.

This is basically what millions of our tax dollars went to just like $250million of our tax dollars went to a janitorial firm in Alaska to develop a global campaign to prevent sexual assault and harassment in the military. Dr. Kaye Whitley just does not get it.

Pentagon spokesperson Geoff Morrell said in a statement that sexual assault is a wider societal problem and Mr Gates has been working to ensure the military is doing all it can to prevent and respond to it as a “command priority”. Command priority and yet rape victims are left out of attending events on a military base that they been invited to and high ranking military officers calling rape a ‘mistake’ instead of a violent crime. This is the military twenty-four hours the lawsuit, the military that is putting their best foot forward as the world is now watching. This is the best that the military at this point and time has to offer and their best is not acceptable.

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5 Comments

  1. Posted February 17, 2011 at 6:32 pm | Permalink

    Kaye Whitley was on the Diane Rehm show this morning with me, Susan Burke (our head lawyer), Anu from SWAN, and one other plaintiff and all I heard was “we’re making progress to help the victims.” I’m not looking for more ways to help the victims (although that’s still a very important point), I’m looking to CHANGE a CULTURE of abuse, sexism, and misogyny. I didn’t hear anything about that in her answers. If you want to listen to the full show it can be found here: http://thedianerehmshow.org/shows/2011-02-17/sexual-assault-and-us-military

    Yes mistakes do happen but abuse is not a mistake. It is a CRIME and should be treated as such. I’m so tired of hearing the same old bullshit – “We have a zero tolerance for sexual abuse.” Spare me your reports and your findings and start to FIX the problem. Lip service just doesn’t cut it anymore.

  2. Posted February 18, 2011 at 3:18 am | Permalink

    While I think it is a good idea to challenge complacency in the military, I don’t believe Quantock’s comment was trivializing rape. Sometimes deliberate crimes (and even violent felonies) are referred to as “mistakes”. As in a mistake in judgement, rather than a mistake in action.

    The last part of his statement makes it clear, I think.

  3. Posted February 18, 2011 at 2:07 pm | Permalink

    Ugh. I just happened upon this little gem…

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2011/02/18/military-chaplain-soldiers-rape-must-have-been-gods-will/

    “She immediately sought the assistance of the military chaplain,” the lawsuit reads. “When SGT Havrilla met with the military chaplain, he told her that ‘it must have been God’s will for her to be raped’ and recommended that she attend church more frequently.”

    Buh-bye last remaining shred of faith in humanity.

  4. Posted February 18, 2011 at 7:23 pm | Permalink

    Rebecca,
    I have so much respect for you and all the other plaintiffs. It really is brave to just tell just one person, let alone go public in this way. Thank you!

    Jen from SWAN

    http://www.jenhogg.com

  5. Posted February 21, 2011 at 12:54 am | Permalink

    Interesting that none of the male victims have come public yet.

    Other felonies that the military ignores (provided that the victim is suitably low-caste):
    Theft, assault/battery, extortion, fraud, perjury, and drunk driving (E-7 and above).

    There are certainly good people in the military, in roughly the same proportions as in the rest of the world. The problem is that military discipline removes the protections from abuse of authority that normal society has.

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