Coast Guard Cadet Sentenced for Extortion, Sodomy, and Indecent Assault
Coast Guard cadet Webster Smith, 23, was sentenced yesterday to six months in prison for extortion, sodomy, indecent assault, and other charges. He was also expelled from the Coast Guard Academy. Smith is the first Coast Guard cadet to be court-martialed in the history of the academy.
Smith was accused by four female cadets of sexual misconduct, including rape, in addition to the charges of extortion, sodomy, and indecent assault, but was acquitted of the sexual misconduct charges. The extortion, sodomy, and indecent assault charges were based on the testimony of one of the female cadets, who claimed that Smith knew a secret about her that would threaten her military career. The female cadet was afraid that Smith would reveal her secret if she said no to his requests, according to the Associated Press.
Though Smith is the first to be court-martialed from the Coast Guard, sexual assault and harassment at military academies is a well-documented problem. The Department of Defense Task Force on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Military Service Academies studied the issue at the US Naval Academy and the Military Academy at West Point and released its findings in a report issued in August of 2005. The report found that “harassment is [a] prevalent and corrosive problem, creating an environment in which sexual assault is likely to occur.” The report concluded that procedures for sexual assault in the military academies were ineffective and called on Congress to bring military sexual assault codes more in-line with current civilian laws.
12/11/2013 Human Rights Day Celebrated Around The World - Yesterday marked International Human Rights Day, a day to celebrate human rights advances and to assess the challenges that lie ahead in protecting them.
"The fundamentals for protecting and promoting human rights are largely in place: these include a strong and growing body of international human rights law and standards, as well as institutions to interpret the laws, monitor compliance and apply them to new and emerging human rights issues," said United Nations High Commissioner for Human Rights Navi Pillay in a statement. . . .
12/11/2013 UConn Under Federal Investigation For Mishandling Sexual Assault Cases - The US Department of Education's Office for Civil Rights (OCR) informed the University of Connecticut on Monday that it will investigate the school for allegedly mishandling sexual assault cases and violating Title IX, the federal law that requires all recipients of federal financial assistance for education programs and activities to prohibit sex discrimination and sexual harassment [PDF].
The investigation was sparked after seven women filed a formal complaint in October alleging that UConn had failed to protect them from sexual assault and exposed them to a sexually hostile environment.One woman says her attacker was expelled from campus but later readmitted without her knowledge. . . .
12/11/2013 Massachusetts Democrat Katherine Clark Wins Congressional Seat - Democrat Katherine Clark will become the fifth woman to represent Massachusetts in the US House Tuesday, after easily defeating three opponents in a special election.
"Six years ago, there wasn't a single woman representing Massachusetts in Congress," said Niki Tsongas, the only other woman representing Massachusetts in the House. . . .