17 Victims Sue Rumsfeld and Gates over Failure to Deal with Military Rapes
Friday, February 18, 2011
Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates (photo: AP)
The Department of Defense’s top leadership is being sued by a group of current and former military personnel over the failure to punish those who sexually assault servicemembers.
Seventeen veterans, including two men, claim Defense Secretary Robert Gates and his predecessor, Donald Rumsfeld, have overseen a culture that allows rape and sexual assault victims to be retaliated against, discouraged from reporting crimes and ordered to remain silent.
One plaintiff, former Marine Corporal Sarah Albertson, says she was raped in 2006 by another Marine of higher rank who went unpunished. Albertson also was told to respect her accused rapist, was placed in a Body Composition Program that he headed and was forced to report to the rapist on a daily basis..
Sergeant Rebekah Havrilla was raped by a colleague in a canine unit. When she later encountered the same soldier at a different base, she sought assistance from a chaplain who, according to the complaint, told her that “it must have been God's will for her to be raped” and recommended that she attend church more frequently.
Private Greg Jeloudov’s fellow soldiers taunted him by saying he was a “champagne socialist faggot from New York.” He was raped by a male soldier and then forced to sign a statement saying he himself was a homosexual, which led to him being discharged as part of the “Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell” policy.
According to the plaintiffs, 3,230 sexual assaults and rapes in the military were reported in 2009, an increase from 2,947 in 2006.
-David Wallechinsky, Noel Brinkerhoff
Lawsuit Says Military Tolerates Rape, Assault (by Rick Maze, Navy Times)
17 Veterans Sue Pentagon for Indifference to Military Rapes (by Ryan Abbott, Courthouse News Service)
Kori Cioca et al. v. Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates (U.S. District Court, Eastern Virginia) (pdf)
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