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Deja Vu? Abuse Allegations for a Second 'Sexual Assault Prevention Officer' in the Military

Sound familiar? That's because almost the same exact thing happened last week.
 
 
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You know there is a really serious sexual assault problem in the military when not one, but two soldiers assigned to monitor and prevent sexual assault are charged or investigated for sexual abuse in the span of just one week. Yesterday, the Associated Press reported that an as-yet unnamed U.S. Army Sergeant First Class at the Army’s 3rd Corps headquarters in Fort Hood, Texas was “under investigation for ‘abusive sexual contact’ and other alleged misconduct and has been suspended from his duties.”  The equal opportunity adviser/ coordinator of a sexual harassment-assault prevention program, the AP said,  “is accused of pandering, abusive sexual contact, assault and maltreatment of subordinates,” but no charges have been filed. USA Today states that  unnamed sources in Washington told them the sergeant was “forcing a subordinate into prostitution and sexually assaulting two others.”

It was just last Monday when Air Force Officer Lt. Col Jeff Krusinski, who was responsible for, yep, preventing sexual assault at a Virginia airbase, was arrested and charged with sexual battery. According to the Arlington County Police Report, on Sunday, “a drunken male subject approached a female victim in a parking lot and grabbed her breasts and buttocks.” She managed to fight him off, and Krusinski was arrested, his beat-up-looking mugshot published.

One day after this Krusinski's arrest, the Pentagon released a new report that revealed sexual assault in the military was a growing problem. Last year, reported sexual assaults increased to 3,374, up 6 percent since 2011. But the vast majority of sexual assaults in the military are never reported. Last year,  26,000 members of the military  -- 35% more than in 2010  -- were sexually assaulted in unreported incidents. About 6% of female and 1% of male soldiers surveyed said they had been sexually assaulted but did not report it. According to the Defense Department, there are now more than 70 sexual assaults involving military personell every day.

According to a press release, Secretary of State Chuck Hagel  “is directing all the services to re-train, re-credential, and re-screen all sexual assault prevention and response personnel and military recruiters. “

Earler this week, Melissa Harris Perry penned an open letter to Hagel, noting grave issues in training:

The training brochure from Shaw Air Force Base in Sumter, South Carolina includes tips on how to avoid sexual assault, like “don’t walk or jog alone,” “avoid doorways, bushes, and alleys,” and, in the case of an attack, “it may be advisable to submit than to resist.” Do you see the pattern here? What the brochure fails to mention? Mr. Secretary, the sexual assault training brochure fails to mention to not commit sexual assault in the first place. Instead, it shifts the entire responsibility of preventing assaults to the victims.

The series of recent, shocking incidents of sexual assault in the military have prompted other lawmakers to call for legislation to curb the problem as well.

Kristen Gwynne is an associate editor and drug policy reporter at AlterNet.  Follow her on Twitter: @KristenGwynne

 
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