Women Testify Against Air Force Colonel on Charges of Sexual Assault
Three women testified on Monday at a military hearing against US Air Force Colonel Samuel Lofton III. According to the Associated Press, one woman testified to Lofton raping her, and another woman testified to repeated sexual assault. A third woman testified to verbal harassment from Lofton that went as far as calling her at her home. Two of the three women did not report Lofton's behavior. The woman who did report the incident said that no action had been taken to punish Lofton.
The allegations come as the military is under fire for the rape of a 14-year-old Japanese girl. A US marine has been arrested in that case. Last March, the Department of Defense issued a study stating that reports of sexual assaults in the military increased by 24 percent during 2006. According to the Associated Press, the Pentagon attributes the increase to better education about sexual assault within the military leading to increased reporting of crimes.
Christine Hansen, the director of the Miles Foundation, a non-profit group that offers support to victims of assault committed by members of the military, told NPR after the release of the 2006 report last year that assault goes unreported to the Department of Defense by women, especially soldiers, because they are "desperately trying to maintain their career in the military." She says that the general response of military officials is to send letters reprimanding the assailants and not to court martial them.
Media Resources: Associated Press 02/12/08 and 03/21/07; Times Record News 02/11/08; NPR 10/04/07; Department of Defense Sexual Assault Report for 2005 03/16/06; BBC 02/12/08