Suicide or murder in the death of Pfc. LaVena Johnson? The family of this soldier, found dead in Iraq during 2005, claims that she may have been raped, murdered and had acid poured over her body to destroy DNA evidence. The incident has been covered up., a photo by Pan-African News Wire File Photos on Flickr.
GAO: Pentagon fails to probe sexual assaults
Wed Jun 29, 2011 6:47PM
The Pentagon has failed to act properly to investigate the 2,594 sexual assaults reported in 2010, the Government Accountability Office accused in a new report.
The Department of Defense Inspector General's office is supposed to oversee all sexual assault investigations within the military, but none of the nearly 2,600 cases were passed through that office this year, the GAO said. The DOD was told to develop a policy for handling and investigating sexual assault cases in 2006, but has done none of this in the five years since.
"The Inspector General's Office has not performed these responsibilities, primarily because it believes it has other, higher priorities," the report read.
The Defense Department has also received extra money to implement and improve sexual assault policies and has not used it. For example, the Army was given $4.4 million specifically to redesign sexual assault policies and programs in the 2009 fiscal year, and failed to do so.
It doesn't look like these policies are going to change anytime soon, either, according to the report.
"Senior officials in the DOD Inspector General's Office told us that they had no plans to expand its oversight of the services' investigative efforts, including those related to sexual assault, because they do not expect to receive any additional resources, given the current fiscal challenges of the federal government," the report reads.
FACTS & FIGURES
Sexual assault is rampant in [the] U.S. military with one in three women raped. In 2009, reported sexual assaults went up 11 percent, according to Department of Defense statistics, with one in three women reporting having been sexually violated while serving in the military.
The Pentagon itself admits that reported incidents probably represent just 20 percent of those that actually occur.
A Pentagon report in March 2007 found that more than half of the investigations dating back to 2004 resulted in no action. When action was taken, only one third of the cases resulted in courts-martial.
In 2008, 62% of those that were convicted of sexual assault or rape received very lenient punishments such as demotion, suspension, or a written reprimand.
On December 13, 2010, the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and other groups filed a federal lawsuit seeking Pentagon records in order to get the real facts about the incidence of sexual assault in the ranks.
The Pentagon has consistently refused to release records that fully document the problem and how it is handled. Sexual assaults on women in the U.S. military have claimed some degree of visibility, but about male victims there is absolute silence.