By John Vibes
Three Pentagon officials who were tasked with investigating sexual assault in the military say that they were either fired or suspended for reporting on cases of sexual assault and exposing attempts to cover up these crimes. They were essentially fired for doing what they were hired to do.
The three women spoke to CBS News this week, about their work with the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program, and how they faced retaliation for properly investigating the crimes that were taking place within the military’s ranks, just as the victims themselves were facing retaliation.
1/2: Secretary of @USArmy Ryan McCarthy said he was concerned about the allegations. "I am deeply saddened and concerned by the recent news reports of how sexual assault and sexual harassment have plagued our force and brought harm to our Soldiers."https://t.co/IiHXSzTPi4
— Jeremy Butler (@JeremyButler01) November 19, 2020
Amy Braley Franck, Marianne Bustin, and Lindsey Knapp have recently come forward with their stories of corruption in the US military’s internal system of justice. All three women worked with the Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program, which was established 15 years ago when the problem first started getting national media attention.
Franck says that she saw many instances of commanders investigating themselves when they were accused of sexual crimes on base.
“I discovered written documentation of illegal investigations and victims languishing, and I continued to ask for help over and over again, and to no avail,” she said.
Lindsey Knapp said that there are “some bad actors and commanders that have found a way to sweep these things under the rug.”
Knapp also pointed out that there has been an increase in assault reports, but a decrease in convictions.
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Over the past year and a half, @NorahODonnell spoke with dozens of sexual assault survivors from all branches of the U.S. military who say their allegations were brushed aside or met with retaliation.
— CBS Evening News (@CBSEveningNews) November 19, 2020
“More and more service members reporting that they’re being retaliated against,” she said.
In the military’s most recent anonymous survey, 64% of women who reported a sexual assault said they experienced retaliation.
“People are afraid. I have young ladies and men say, ‘The rape was bad, but I don’t wanna go through this other thing because it’s worse than the rape,’” Franck said.
Last year, Franck was suspended from her position the day after she contacted a commanding general about the problem of retaliation after sexual assaults.
“I think the breadth and the depth of the problem is so large that they really don’t want the general public to understand that they don’t have it under control,” she said.
Bustin was also fired by the same commander that she complained to.
“They didn’t want change, and they refused to do it, and they said, ‘You’re gonna be gone,’ and they were right,” Bustin said.
“Here’s three women trying to fight a male-dominated system where men are the ones deciding whether women were assaulted or harassed… it’s a difficult fight,” she added.
Knapp also said that her firing came immediately after reporting problems to a commander.
“It all came to a head when I reported that Delta Force was covering up rape. I don’t think they want people to know that their elite fighting force is capable of doing these kinds of things. We’re not even the sexual assault survivor, we are the victim advocate, we are there to advocate. But then they see us being retaliated against, and they see us being fired for standing up for them,” Knapp explained.
John Vibes is an author, researcher and investigative journalist who takes a special interest in the counter culture and the drug war.
Image: Anthony Freda Art
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