Secretaries of Defense Need to Stop Military Sexual Trauma Says Legal Group for Veterans
Northville, MI (Law Firm Newswire) April 4, 2011 - More than one dozen current and former service members named current Secretary of Defense Robert Gates and former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld as defendants in a lawsuit about military rape and sexual assault.
The group of fifteen women and two men, including both veterans and active-duty servicepeople, claimed that Secretary Gates and former Secretary Rumsfeld openly condoned policies that did not prevent, investigate or prosecute the perpetrators who raped, assaulted and harassed them while they were serving as members of the U.S. Military. They claim that the two failed to enforce the rules though the Uniformed Code of Military Justice.
“The unique aspect of this story is that the veterans have filed suit against the current and former Secretary of Defense. No one should tolerate this behavior,” said James G. Fausone, a veterans lawyer who works for Legal Help For Veterans, PLLC.
The lawsuit accuses the Secretaries of Defense of failing to take action against what they call a “culture of rape”. They claim that several of the perpetrators were not punished for their crimes, and even promoted after they mocked reforms designed to punish them.
In addition, one female veteran claimed that soldiers who come forward to complain about rape or anything else are ridiculed or retaliated against without means to defend themselves. She said that rape and sexual assault cases are mistreated and are not subject to accountability.
A Pentagon spokesman said that Secretary Gates is working to ensure that the military is “doing all it can to prevent and respond to” rape and sexual assault. He said that Secretary Gates is providing more money, staffing and training to stop the crimes from happening.
There were over 3,200 rapes or sexual assaults in the armed forces in 2009, according to the 2009 Annual report of Sexual Assaults in the Military. This number, however, is estimated to account for only 20 percent of actual rapes in the military, according to the Defense Department, which believes the number may actually be as high as 16,150.
“Military sexual trauma against men or women cannot be tolerated in a military force protecting a civil society,” Fausone said.
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