Pentagon Report Blames Air Force Academy Leadership for Sex Abuse

Pentagon Inspector General Joseph Schmitz released a report last week on his investigation into the Air Force Academy’s sexual assault scandal that found a succession of commanders responsible for the lack of attention paid to the rampant occurrences of rape and sexual abuse. Over the past decade, there have been 142 instances of sexual assault reported, but little action was taken by leadership until the widespread problem of sexual abuse was publicly exposed. Eight Air Force officials and two Air Force legal officers were reported to have shared the responsibility for failing to acknowledge the climate of hostility toward women at the Academy and for allowing a culture which tolerated the sexual abuse of female cadets to prevail, according to Reuters. This finding is similar to the results of a report released by a civilian commission last year. However, according to the Associated Press, members of the civilian commission have responded to the Inspector General’s report, maintaining that they believe three additional officials formerly of the Academy deserve blame, and that one of the eight Air Force officials blasted in the Pentagon report should not have been. David Chu, the undersecretary of defense for personnel and readiness, said last week in a Pentagon briefing that a policy guaranteeing the confidentiality of victims who report an assault or rage will be put in place quickly, the New York Times reports. Investigations over the past two years seem to indicate that many female cadets feared being ostracized or punished if they came forward to report sexual abuse. A course of discipline for the officials blamed is as yet unknown, and many of them have already retired from the Air Force. Chu noted in the Pentagon briefing that all of the Academy’s leadership has been replaced since the scandal broke.


Reuters 12/8/04; New York Times 12/7/04; Associated Press 12/8/04

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