Sexual assault in the US military

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The New York Times reports Jeffrey Krusinski, Air Force lieutenant colonel in Arlington, Virginia, was arrested and charged with sexual battery. Mr Krusinski was the officer in charge of sexual assault prevention programmes for the Air Force.

He had also just finished sexual assault victim training. He is alleged to have made intimate advances on a female victim in a car-park.   The incident has been compared to one that occurred 22 years ago. Anita Hill was sexually harassed by Clarence Thomas, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court of the United States, when he was a top enforcer of laws against sexual violence in the workplace.

A startling statistic from a Pentagon study showed that 26,000 men and women in the military were sexually assaulted in 2012, which was a 37% increase from the previous year. Only 3,374 were reported, and 238 of perpetrators were convicted.

President Obama commented that: "If we find out somebody's engaging in this stuff, they've got to be held accountable, prosecuted, stripped of their positions, court-martialed, fired, dishonourably discharged - period."

The chief of staff for the Air Force, General Mark Walsh, talked of young women entering the military whilst being brought up in a culture of "hook-up mentality". He does not go on to define this, but offers that: "Hook-ups may be stupid, but they are consensual." However, Senator Kirsten Gillibrand of New York was reported to have said that: "To dismiss violent rapes as part of the hook-up culture shows a complete lack of understanding."

In simple terms she explained that: "We're not talking about a date gone badly. We're talking about criminal behaviour by predators who often stalk their victims in advance."

In October 2004, a former training officer at Deepcut Barracks in Surrey, was jailed for committing sex attacks on five young soldiers between 1995 and 2002.  It is vital to report any such violation to the police at the earliest opportunity. The gruelling process of litigation requires commitment and strength of mind.

Not only are our clients focusing on being financially compensated, they seek a sense of justice, and perhaps take comfort knowing that they may have prevented someone else from going through a similar ordeal. Claims can be brought under the Protection from Harassment Act 1997, or for trespass to the person.

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