Mt. Vernon Register-News

Opinion

March 22, 2013

Sex scandal that plagues the military

WASHINGTON — The best nominated film not to win an Oscar this year is “The Invisible War,” a riveting account of sexual assault in the military focusing on the elite Marine barracks in Washington, just blocks from the White House and a bridge away from the Pentagon.

With harrowing interviews of those preyed upon, the documentary shows what little recourse victims have, how reprisals are more likely than justice, and how perpetrators are as likely to get promoted as to get charged. Two of those interviewed filed lawsuits against the military over an atmosphere that tolerates rapists while quieting the survivors.

The sequel to the documentary played out last week in Congress as the Senate Armed Services Committee’s Subcommittee on Personnel tried to make the invisible visible. In its first hearings since an inquiry into the Air Force Academy scandal in 2003, the committee had a fresh case to consider.

Lt. Col. James Wilkerson, a former fighter pilot at Aviano Air Base in Italy was accused of sexual assault after a late-night party at his house in March 2012. At trial, Wilkerson, who didn’t take the stand, was convicted, sentenced to a year in prison and dismissed from the Air Force. Then last month his commanding officer, Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin, overturned the conviction, clearing Wilkerson’s record and returning him to duty.

The subcommittee heard from four former service members who found themselves endangered not by the enemy but from their own.

Former Army Sgt. Rebekah Havrilla testified that she was raped by a fellow service member in Afghanistan and told by an Army chaplain that it was God’s way of getting her to go back to church.

She didn’t press charges until she found out that her assailant had posted pictures of her on a pornographic website. Then the married officer said the sex was consensual, and officials in his chain of command decided not to charge him with the assault (or adultery).

Text Only
Opinion
  • Remember the pledge Editor:The county board chairman is not being factual with his recent comments concerning the Public Safety Tax Pledge made by the 2004-2010 County Board.First of all, the debt we were facing was caused by the foolish actions of nine board members of

    July 31, 2014

  • Back to the future for death penalty? The surreal national debate over the death penalty reached a climax of sorts July 23 in a prison execution chamber in Florence, Arizona. Double murderer Joseph Wood was put to death by lethal injection shortly after his lawyers went to the Supreme Co

    July 31, 2014

  • No Headline Provided House and Senate conferees have agreed on a $17 billion bill to address the scandal over poor health-care service at the Department of Veterans Affairs. The legislation is now on a fast track to pass Congress before its August recess, showing that Re

    July 31, 2014

  • Close the tax loophole that sends US corporations overseas Since we last overhauled our federal tax code, in 1986, countries around the world have lowered their tax rates, leaving the United States with the highest corporate tax rate in the developed word. At the same time, the system has become full of inef

    July 29, 2014

  • Israel and the U.S.: Whose survival instinct is stronger? There’s something darkly coincidental in the fact that the latest weapon to be deployed against the survival instinct of both Israel and the United States is an alleged “heartlessness” when it comes to children. The people of Israel are castigated in

    July 29, 2014

  • College cost isn't big problem for poor students To judge by this summer’s banner policy proposals, the most important question for higher-education reform right now is giving students easier access to loans. But evidence from Canada suggests those changes won’t address the greater need: Getting mo

    July 29, 2014

  • Ducks, geese a blessing I would like to respond to the “Geese and ducks causing problems in Veterans Park” article that was published in the Mt. Vernon Register-News on July 16, 2014. I must share that I do understand that at times there have been a great number of the Cana

    July 29, 2014

  • Money not always the answer I really have to stop and think sometimes. I challenge my thought processes when I write these columns. I am having a hard time with this one. It appears to me that every time a governmental agency or any of the entities that spend other people’s mon

    July 29, 2014

  • Teachers unions' destructive behavior You can always count on the national teachers unions to behave badly at their annual conventions, and they certainly didn’t let us down this month. In doing so, however, they let down many of their members, along with students who are working hard to

    July 26, 2014

  • Workers of the world, curb your ambitions A group of Democrats introduced legislation this week to protect low-paid shift workers from last-minute changes in their schedules. The idea fits into an intriguing category of economic activism: Not trying to lift low-paid workers out of poverty, n

    July 26, 2014

Twitter Updates
Facebook
Stocks