The Subcommittee on National Security and Foreign Affairs on Wednesday held a hearing on sexual assault in the military. Dr. Kaye Whitley, director of the Department of Defense’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, testified at the hearing. She was ordered by her Pentagon superiors to ignore a congressional subpoena to attend a previous hearing on the topic this past July.
In his opening statement, Subcommittee Chairman John F. Tierney (D-MA) said that “not only did Dr. Whitley and the Department choose to defy a legal subpoena and to place Dr. Whitley in danger of contempt and personal legal jeopardy for her non-appearance, but the Department gave no valid legal justification for restricting her from appearing, and Dr. Whitley proffered none as well.”
In her testimony (see PDF) Dr. Whitley stated that “we have accomplished remarkable progress in a short time frame but we know our work to eradicate sexual assault is not complete.” She outlined the current programs she directs throughout her testimony, but did not directly address her absence at the July hearing.
The Department of Defense’s Fourth Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military cites 2,688 reported cases of sexual assault by military personnel in fiscal year 2007. Report rates are suspected to be low, and according to the DOD only 8% of those investigated for sexual assault were referred to courts martial. In the civil courts 40% of arrested rape suspects are prosecuted.