Altering its position held earlier this spring, the US Air Force Academy this weekend unveiled a new sexual assault policy that rejects the confidentiality of victims reporting assault. In what appeared less an effort to confront the hostilities in academy culture that foster violence against women and more like an attempt to disprove charges “that reporting this type of crime will ruin a cadet’s career,” the policy mandates participation from criminal investigators, a chaplain, a nurse, and a cadet representative in every reported assault case, according to the Associated Press. Rape victim advocates say the changes will likely discourage victims from coming forward. “The best way to help a victim start to heal is by giving them choices about what they want to have happen,” said Cari Davis, executive director of the Colorado Springs-based rape crisis center TESSA, according to the AP.
Meanwhile, a USA Today editorial last week questioned Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld’s selection of two panelists to oversee sexual assault policies at the academy. Joshiah Bunting III, as head of the Virginia Military Institute (VMI), was a staunch opponent of women cadets at the publicly funded institution, calling their Supreme Court-ordered inclusion in 1996 a “savage disappointment.” Last week, panelist Amy McCarthy said she doubted the truthfulness of the female cadets’ allegations. “Due to the fact that many of the women making the allegations were involved with drinking, partying, strip poker, what I call high-risk behaviors, my personal opinion is that a number of these allegations or the veracity of these allegations may be suspect,” McCarthy told AP Radio, as reported by the AP.