Reservists struggle with sexual assaults

6:30 PM, May 17, 2013   |    comments
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AUGUSTA, Maine -- (NEWS CENTER) Secretary of Defense Chuck Hagel has ordered retraining, recredentialing and rescreening of all sexual assault prevention coordinators for the military, as well as for military recruiters after two recent cases where men in charge of prevention programs were charged with sexual assault. But Hagel's orders will do little to help the nation's 1-million Reservists.

Newscenter talked with one former Army Reservist who asked that her identity be concealed since two of her alleged rapists live within and hour of her home. "Ann" told us how she was serving in Iraq from February 2004 to February 2005 and loved her job as a convoy truck driver and combat first aid specialist in large part because of the conraderie she felt with her fellow soldiers.

That changed one night around Christmas, 2004, when "Ann" says she was raped by four other Reservists. When she went to the platoon sergeant the next day, he reportedly told her to, "keep quiet. You drank alcohol so you will get in trouble."

"Ann" kept quiet for years until she was honorably discharged and sought counseling with the Veterans Administration. She was approved for military sexual trauma-related benefits. Then last year, when former Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta ordered all branches of the military to institute strict guidelines for prosecuting sexual assault cases, "Ann" felt encouraged.

She is now seeking to bring her rapists to justice. She was originally told by the Army Reserve that they did not have jurisdiction over the case. When she pressed the point, she was then told there was no system set up to prosecute in Maine. She is now working with other advocates to establish a system here in Maine, and to navigate the Army's system to prosecute her case.



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