Special Report: Sexual Assault in the Military

6:38 PM, May 18, 2012   |    comments
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WASHINGTON (NEWS CENTER) -- Victims of sexual assault in the military from 27 states gathered last week in Washington, D.C. for a groundbreaking conference. They shared their stories in public - many for the frist time - and then went to the Capitol Hill offices of their congressional representatives to lobby directly for change.

"That's one of the frustrating pieces about what's going on in the military right now," says Jen Norris of Rumford, a survivor who was raped by her Maine Air National Guard recruiting office in the mid 1990s. "Most commanders and a lot of the chain of command are not handling when rapes are being reported. They're not handling at all or they're not handling them well."

"I was absolutely appalled and astonished that a victim of sexual assault had a difficult time getting a transfer to a new unit while the case was being prosecuted or adjuicated, says Senator Susan Collins.  "I mean that's just incredible for a woman or a man to have to every day work with the individual who assaulted her or him is just unbelievable."

Congresswoman Chellie Pingree is pushing for much more stringent prosecutorial measures.

"How could the Pentagon and the Department of Defense be investing this much money in training our soldiers and sending them to war and equipping them with every possible piece of gear - and believe me we discuss each vest each shoe each shirt sleeve that you put on when serving our country but somehow we can't get inside and say how did we do that to our soliders?" says Pingree. "How did we allow this to happen and why aren't we there admitting that it happened? Why aren't we there prosecuting the perpetrators? Why aren't we there moving it up the chain? And then why aren't we there to support you?"

Maine veterans and congressional representatives have been pivotal in raising awareness of the issue and in pushing for change within the Department of Defense. Kathleen Shannon will bring us a special report.



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