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April 12, 2004

They Were Let Off Lightly? « Media Distortions »

This article makes me quite angry.

U.S. soldiers accused of rape and other sex crimes while serving in Iraq routinely dodged prosecution during the past year with the help of commanders who gave them light punishments such as reprimands and pay cuts, according to military records released to the Denver Post.

Troops facing sex offenses were given job-related punishments -- which offer no prospect of prison time -- nearly five times as often as those charged with other crimes.

Such leniency also was granted to soldiers accused of serial crimes. Though investigators compiled evidence to prosecute a sergeant for sexually assaulting three subordinate battalion members, he was only given a reprimand, records show.

And though evidence was gathered to prosecute a military police officer for one of two rape allegations, reports show his commanders merely dropped him in rank and discharged him at his request.

I'm angry because the writer of the article does not understand military culture enough to understand that an Article 15 can actually be a very serious punishment. I'm angry because "accusation" is used as if it is a synonym for "conviction". I'm angry because "gathered evidence to prosecute" does not mean there was enough evidence to prosecute. I'm angry because it is after-the-fact hindsight second-guessing that implies the the person charged was absolutely and provably guilty beyond a reasonable doubt, and the commanders deliberately lessened the punishment to perpetuate some Good 'Ol Boy attitude that sexual assault is unimportant.

Horse Puckey.

Women do make unfounded accusations of rape and sexual assault. Sexual assault and rape are often difficult to prove if they aren't witnessed or if the woman doesn't get a medical exam in a timely manner. What do you do if it comes down to a case of "He Said/She Said"? In the civilian world, absolutely nothing. In the military world, the male soldier will get, at the very least, a thoroughly masterful dressing down for even allowing himself to be in a situation that looked bad. He'll get screamed at by at least three levels of the chain of command. The accusation will remain in his record, and even a dismissed allegation can prevent him from getting promoted. If the commander has some idea that the accusation is correct, but cannot prove it, he is still within his rights to take money and time from a soldier just because he wants to; the control enjoyed by a commander is total. And believe me, you spend enough of your time away from home trying to earn too little money to live on that losing half your pay for even one month is a serious blow, as is having to do extra duty for 4 hours a night for a month. They make darn certain that the extra duty is not enjoyable.

This whole article is a study of half-truths and lies. The military takes rape and sexual assault far more seriously and prosecutes it far more vigorously than any corporation I know. I had been on station less than a month when a 1st Lt was kicked out of the service with a Dishonorable Discharge for doing nothing more than having consensual sex with an adult enlisted member not in his chain of command. Name one other corporation or institution worldwide that would go to that length to protect its employees.

Posted by Nathan at 11:14 AM | Comments (0)
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