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Former US military cadets sue service academies for failing to prevent rapes

Two former cadets from the US Military Academy and the US Naval Academy [official websites] brought a suit [text] in the US District Court for the Southern District of New York [official website] alleging that the service academies failed to prevent rapes. Specifically, the complaint alleges that the service academies promoted a culture of sexual assault, they failed to implement regulations regarding sexual assault, they failed to investigate claims of sexual assault and prosecute offenders and they retaliated against victims who reported being sexually assaulted. The complaint further alleges that:

Both institutions claim to be teaching young men and women to hold themselves to the highest standards of ethical conduct. Yet both institutions systematically and repeatedly ignore rampant sexual harassment. Both institutions have a history of failing to prosecute and punish those students found to have sexually assaulted and and raped their fellow students. Although Defendants and other military leadership repeatedly claim they have "zero tolerance" for such misconduct, the evidence shows otherwise: they have a high tolerance for sexual predators in their ranks, and "zero tolerance" for those who report rape, sexual assault and harassment.
Finally, the complaint alleges that the defendants actively sought to impede congressional oversight by directing witnesses to ignore subpoenas, sought to "muddle" rape reporting statistics and hired an inexperienced firm to implement the service academies' obligations to prevent sexual assault. Neither institution has commented on the allegations.

Sexual assault, sexual harassment and rape have been controversial subjects for the service academies. In 2005 the US Defense Department Task Force on Sexual Harassment and Violence at the Service Academies found that sexual assault at service academies was still a problem [JURIST report]. A report [text, PDF] released by the Air Force in 2004 in response to an anonymous email alleging that sexual assaults were ignored by US Air Force Academy [official website] leadership found that in ten of fifty six sexual assault complaints "a logical investigative step was omitted," including failing to conduct additional interviews. A survey [NYT report] conducted in 2003 found that 12% of women graduating from the US Air Force Academy were victims of rape or attempted rape at the Academy and that almost 70% were the victim of sexual harassment.

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