The heat is being turned up on the U.S. Air Force Academy over its alleged treatment of dozens of female cadets and former cadets accusing male classmates of rape or sexual assault.
Three alleged victims tell The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm the academy is essentially turning a deaf ear to their charges, and protecting their attackers.
Some 60 female cadets have come forward saying they’d been sexually assaulted or raped at the prestigious military school in Colorado Springs over a 10-year span.
Rick Sallinger of CBS station KCNC-TV in Denver reports that Air Force promises of reform are being put to the test in the court martial on rape counts of First Lt. Joseph Harding.
The proceedings were put on hold last week over a victim’s privacy issue, when civilian rape counselor Jennifer Bier refused to turn over subpoenaed records of her sessions with accuser and former cadet Jessica Brakey. A warrant was then issued for Bier’s arrest by a military judge.
“I think it sends a very clear message that one of the ways to defeat a case pending against you is to intimidate the victim and to threaten to expose her most intimate and private thoughts,” Bier says.
Prosecutors are appealing the delay, but Bier is afraid the charges could be dropped.
“They do not hold offenders accountable,” she says.
Brakey says she was afraid for two years to come forward with her story of having been raped at an outdoor training exercise during her freshman year.
She told Storm Monday that the response of her superiors left much to be desired: “I was hoping they were going to help me. But as time progressed, I started to realize that the more information that they had was the more that they could eventually use against me.”
Brakey says she feels “violated” over the hold in Harding’s court martial: “This has been hanging over my head for two years. And they’ve had, the Air Force has had numerous opportunities to do the right thing; they just haven’t. It’s devastating.”
Ex-cadet Sharon Fullilove says she was raped by an upper classman she “was familiar with, who I trusted, who had always been kind to the freshman in my squadron. And I really had been told, if something like this happens to you, you’re not supposed to report it, or you will be kicked out of the academy. And it had been my dream for my whole life to go there. So I wasn’t about to mess that up.”
Fullilove’s mother is an Air Force colonel.