Political Animal


May 15, 2013 1:13 PM If We’re Talking “Scandals,” Here’s Another One

By Ed Kilgore

If we’re all just going to go into full scandal mode for the next few weeks or months, I’d nominate another one that’s a lot more tangible and affects a lot more real people than the Benghazi!/IRS/AP “triple play.” Here’s a report from ThinkProgress’ Hayes Brown:

Ahead of possible major actions from the Pentagon and Congress on sexual assault in the military, the U.S. Army is forced to confront yet another instance of a member of the armed forces involved in a shocking sexual assault scandal.
In the latest incident, the Department of Defense revealed on Tuesday a sergeant first class in the U.S. Army stationed at the Ft. Hood, TX military base is under investigation for sexual assault. Along with allegedly sexually assaulting two of his peers, the the sergeant is being investigated for possibly forcing a subordinate into prostitution. Making matters even worse, the soldier under investigation was assigned as the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) program coordinator for an eight-hundred person battalion stationed at the base.
The investigation draws a parallel to a case just last week in which the head of the entire Air Force’s sexual assault response program was himself charged with sexual battery in Arlington, VA.

This isn’t, of course, an isolated incident:

According to the most recent report, an estimated 26,000 instances of sexual assault took place in the military last year. President Obama at a press conference last week called the epidemic “an outrage” and said soldiers who rape are “betraying the uniform that they’re wearing.” “When you engage in this kind of behavior that’s not patriotic — it’s a crime,” Obama went on to say. “And we have to do everything we can to root this out.”

If 26,000 sexual assaults in the military were reported last year, Lord only knows how many were committed. You can go back and forth as to the seriousness of many “scandals,” but this one is hard to exaggerate.

Ed Kilgore is a contributing writer to the Washington Monthly. He is managing editor for The Democratic Strategist and a senior fellow at the Progressive Policy Institute. Find him on Twitter: @ed_kilgore.


  • c u n d gulag on May 15, 2013 1:19 PM:

    I don't know what the current punishment is, but if I was in the military, whether temporarily or as a "lifer," but if I was found guilty of rape, or sexual harassment, the thing I would fear the most, is not only having to serve time in a military prison, but, upon release from prison, getting a dishonorable discharge, and losing my VA privileges, and pension, if any.

    There need to be very, very serious consequences for rape and sexual harassment.

  • GregL on May 15, 2013 1:48 PM:

    There were 3,374 reported sexual assaults and from that the military estimates a total of 26,000.

    The details are two levels deep in the links you provided in your article.


  • maggie on May 15, 2013 1:59 PM:

    I'm wondering how much training these people in these positions have and if the position was their choice... I'm starting to think these men were assigned the job by the military as some sort of punishment for infractions, sort of like KP duty.

  • emjayay on May 15, 2013 2:56 PM:

    Frontline on PBS ran a doc on this topic this week. I'm sure it will crop up again. I was going to say it was awful and shocking, but actually it was not shocking at all actually but exactly what one would expect. A print summary:


    The key to the problem is probably this, from the above link:

    "In the military, sexual assaults are handled within the chain of command. That means that a victimís commanding officer has the ability to intervene at any point: to stop an investigation, reduce a sentence or even set aside a conviction."

  • boatboy_srq on May 15, 2013 3:12 PM:

    GOTea POV: This is not an issue. Boys will be boys, and if the DoD weren't admitting all those immoral sluts into the service there'd be no problem (what decent woman wants to fight, anyway?). We don't need better enforcement: what we need is more men in uniform, and more civilian loose women near military installations. Oh, and reinstate DADT, because fighting is straight men's work, and we need more baybeez for Quiverfull when the Rapture comes, and all.


  • Doug on May 15, 2013 8:38 PM:

    maggie, it's more likely that those positions were sought because, assuming one stays out of the sort of trouble these two didn't, it looks really, really good on your evals when you're going up for advancement.

    emjayjay, that's the problem exactly. Ordering someone to destroying evidence of, or to lie in an official report about, a crime is *not* a "legal order" which *must* be obeyed and is, in fact, illegal under the UCMJ. But that's easy for me to say now - I'm retired and wouldn't be facing any retaliation.
    I could be mistaken, but I believe it *is* legal for someone to notify the JAG *without* going up the CoC if such pressures are being applied.
    It's certainly something that needs to be looked into.