How the Air Force Academy Rape Scandal Continues to Affect Sexual Assault Charges Today
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On January 2, 2003, an anonymous email uncovered a shocking piece of information that had long been suppressed. The email claimed that there was a significant sexual assault problem in the United States Air Force. It went on to accuse the Academy’s leadership of neglecting the issue by not issuing out sexual assault charges. The Secretary of the Air Force took these generalized sexual assault accusations very seriously. A series of investigations were conducted and eventually reported in September of 2004. The team at Military Trial Defenders has outlined a few facts about this scandal.
A Shock to the System
The findings were nothing short of shocking. Of the 659 women who were enrolled at the Academy, 70 percent claimed that they had been the victims of sexual harassment, and 22 percent said they experienced “pressure for sexual favors.” Nineteen percent of the women alleged to have been the victims of sexual assault. Roughly seven percent said that the assault came in the form of rape or attempted rape. While the numbers alone were disturbing, the greater shock was that most of these sexual crimes had been tucked away. Only a third of cases had been reported, and fewer still had resulted in sexual assault charges.
The media had a field day when the Air Force Academy “rape scandal” surfaced. The Military was forced to put “all hands on deck” to ward off negative public attention. The Academy reacted to the negative press by committing to cultural transformation and by cracking down on the investigation of sexual assault charges.
Fifteen Years Later
Nearly fifteen years have passed since the Air Force Academy “rape scandal”, and many things about military culture have changed. One thing has not changed, however. Questionable sexual assault and rape allegations used to be subject to discretion. If a Commander examined the evidence and determined that the allegations were not credible, a court-martial could potentially be avoided.
After the Air Force Academy scandal, however, the Military at large has attempted to suppress sex crimes by taking sexual assault allegations at face value. No matter how outlandish a claim may seem, the case is likely to go to trial. These changes are meant to advocate for sexual assault victims. They have also placed hundreds of innocent men at risk of an unfair sexual assault conviction. And even if they are not convicted, the stress of the trial can dramatically affect their careers and their lives.
Defending You Against Sexual Assault Charges
If you have a sexual assault charge, you may be feeling frightened, frustrated, or alone. You don’t need anyone to tell you that sexual assault charges are serious. We do want to remind our audience, however, that these situations are sticky – particularly in the politically charged atmosphere that has pervaded Military culture. Article 120 of the UCMJ is complicated, and it is often used liberally to match the agenda of those in charge. While going up against sexual assault allegations can feel daunting, the attorneys are Military Trial Defenders are here to help. Don’t stand by and let the career you have worked so hard for crumble. We are here to fight aggressively on your behalf.
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