Court to Decide if Military Rape Victims Can Sue Defense Dept.
Thursday, November 17, 2011
Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates (Photo: AP)
A federal judge in Virginia is expected this week to rule whether 28 current and former military personnel can sue the Department of Defense for not taking action to curb rape in the armed services.
Filed against former defense secretaries Robert Gates and Donald Rumsfeld, the lawsuit contends that Pentagon leaders allowed the violation of soldiers’ constitutional rights by failing to curb sexual assaults.
The 28 plaintiffs consist of 25 women and three men, all of whom allege they were raped or sexually assaulted by fellow soldiers, and that the Defense Department failed to do anything after the attacks.
Pentagon attorneys have asked the judge to throw out the case on grounds that the agency cannot be sued thanks to the Feres Doctrine, which has given the Defense Department immunity from civil and criminal matters since the 1950.
There were 3,158 rapes reported last year to the Defense Department’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. However, this number is much lower than the total, given that a Pentagon report in March estimated there were 19,000 sexual assaults in 2010.
Of the 19,000 only 20% were prosecuted, which is half the rate of the civilian justice system.
Military Faces Mounting Pressure to Crack Down on Rape (by Jesse Ellison, Daily Beast)
Gates, Rumsfeld Sued Over U.S. Military's Rape Epidemic (by Jesse Ellison, Daily Beast)
House Bill Would Allow Veterans who were Raped to Receive PTSD Benefits (by Noel Brinkerhoff, AllGov)
17 Victims Sue Rumsfeld and Gates over Failure to Deal with Military Rapes (by Noel Brinkerhoff and David Wallechinsky, AllGov)
Kori Cioca et al. v. Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates (U.S. District Court, Eastern Virginia) (pdf)
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