Is It Really Possible To Eliminate Sexual Assault In The Army?
June 15, 2009
Over the past year or so, the Army has worked diligently to increase their focus on the prevention and response to sexual assault. Their eventual goal is to completely eliminate sexual assault from the Army altogether. The Army is engaged from the top down to do what they can to educate Soldiers about sexual assault, teach them how to reduce their risks of becoming a victim, and get them engaged in the prevention aspect of it, by intervening if they see something happening that shouldn’t. I often wonder though, if leadership at all levels are really engaged and willing to do what is necessary to eradicate this horrific crime from the Army. I’m sure you’re wondering why I would say that.
Every day, across this country and around the world, millions of sexual assaults occur. Laws regarding sex crimes have been stiffened and in most states, someone who commits a sex crime must register as a sex offender, sometimes for the rest of their lives. In many states, when a sex offender moves into a neighborhood, they must register with the local police department. Notices are then sent out to residents in the area, advising them of this fact. Yet these crimes still occur at an alarming rate, even in the military. That really shouldn’t come as a surprise, because afterall, Soldiers come from American society.
I can’t count the number of hours that I’ve spent with victims of sexual assault at the emergency room of the hospital. I can’t count the number of miles I’ve put on my car to accompany a victim to have a Sexual Assault Forensics Exam completed and I can’t even begin to count the amount of hours that I’ve spent in a CID interview room, as the victim recounts what happened to them, once again. It’s a lengthy process, one that can sometimes last as many as 10-15 hours at a stretch. I can’t say enough about the professionalism of the CID agents as they pull out all stops to investigate the crime and ensure they have a solid case before presenting it to legal and then to the command to determine the course of action from there. But, what if a particular command isn’t committed to preventing sexual assault or holding offenders accountable for their actions?
Believe it or not, even with the Army’s increased commitment to eliminating sexual assault, there are registered sex offenders who are still serving in the military. That’s a scary thought, huh, one that’s unfortunately true. You can access information about registered sex offenders in your area by visiting http://www.familywatchdog.us . Try it. I think that you’ll be as appalled as I was when I saw how many registered sex offenders lived in the area I do, and even more so when I saw that some of them were Soldiers. How is this allowed? Perhaps, because of the work I do, my opinions are a bit biased, but I really don’t think so. Why run the risk of this person sexually assaulting someone else? Why take that chance.
I’m sure that there are some who have to register as a sex offender who maybe shouldn’t be on there, but not many. The type that I’m thinking of when I make that statement, is say… a 18 or 19 year old who starts dating a young lady a few years younger than himself. They have sex and suddenly he’s charged with a sex crime because she was under the legal age of consent. That young man will have to register as a sex offender. That’s not the offender that worries me. The ones that concern me are ones who have been charged with a sexual assault, tried, found guilty and somehow are continuing to serve in the military. How is that happening? Are they receiving moral waivers when they enlist, enabling them to join the Army, even though they’ve been convicted of a felony? Has their command known about the conviction and chose to do nothing? Was command even made aware of the conviction? Or how about the one who commits a sex crime while he or she is serving in the military and command doesn’t courts martial them, but instead makes them register as a sex offender, maybe takes away some rank and gives them an article 15. It happens and it’s infuriating. I don’t know about you, but those aren’t the types of people that I’d want watching my back downrange.
My concern with this, is the fact that some of these people may commit the same crime again. Especially if they know they’ve gotten away with it the first time. Isn’t it endangering other Soldiers, family members, civilian workers and other citizens by allowing someone with a sexual assault conviction to continue to serve in the military? Until this changes, I don’t see how the Army can eliminate sexual assault in it’s ranks. This is something that needs to be looked at closely. I do feel that each case should be looked at individually and all information should be taken into account before decisions are made, however this is something that the Army is very serious about and something that they should consider, as they continue their 5 year plan to eliminate sexual assault from the Army.