Air Force Cites 54 Cases of Rape, Sexual Assault in Academy
Air Force Secretary James Roche revealed yesterday that there have been 54 cases of alleged rape or sexual assault at the Air Force Academy, and acknowledged that number was likely to be much higher, according to the Los Angeles Times. “The part that is the saddest,” Roche told the Senate Armed Services committee, “is that whatever the number is, 25, 50, there’s probably another 100 that we’ve not seen,” according to the Times. An Air Force Academy official tried to downplay Roche’s findings, saying, “Where does that number come from? We just don’t know,” the Times reports.
The Air Force is investigating claims by current and former women cadets that the Academy disciplined women who reported rape or assault, in some cases forcing them to leave. Senator Wayne Allard (R-CO), who has pressed the Pentagon for a more thorough investigation, said the current situation at the Air Force Academy is worse than the Navy Tailhook scandal of 1991 because “the entire support and legal system at the academy seems to have failed. We really do need to instill confidence in the system so victims know when they report rape, they know the rape itself will not jeopardize their career,” according to the Washington Post. Roche confirmed that the Superintendent of the Air Force Academy would retire in June, and that there would be several other retirements and transfers related to the scandal, according to Denver’s 7NEWS.
The scandal broke last month with an investigative report by 7NEWS. Since then, numerous reports of rape and sexual abuse, as well as mishandling by the Academy, have surfaced. Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has come under fire for disbanding a panel that addressed sexual assault throughout the military. In February 2002, Rumsfeld allowed the charter on the Defense Advisory Committee on Women in the Services (DACOWITS) to expire after anti-feminist reactionary groups claimed that the panel was fostering “radical feminism” and was no longer needed because “women had been fully integrated into the military,” the New York Times reported. Women make up about 18 percent of Air Force Academy cadets.
Media Resources: LA Times 3/7/03; New York Times 3/7/03; 7NEWS 3/6/03; Washington Post 3/7/03; Feminist Daily News Wire