Protect Our Defenders News Blog


Judicial Proceedings Panel Remarks from Major General Robert D. Shadley, U.S. Army (Retired)

On Wednesday, July 22, Major General Robert D. Shadley, U.S. Army (Ret.) testified at a public meeting of the Judicial Proceedings Panel on Sexual Assault in the Military. The hearing addressed issues related to Article 120, which criminalizes rape, sexual assault, and other sexual offenses in the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ), and will reviewed case studies of abuse of authority and coercive sexual offenses in the training environment. Gen Shadley’s remarks are below.

My name is Bob Shadley.  Thank you very much for allowing me to add my thoughts on how the military judicial system can best help to rid our military of the cancer of sexual assaults and its precursor, sexual harassment.

While serving as the Commanding General, U.S. Army Ordnance Center and Schools at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Maryland,  we uncovered a situation in which primarily drill sergeants were having a contest to see who could have sex with the most trainees (students).  These cadre members either abused their positions of authority or took advantages of trainee weaknesses. I personally worked this issue 14 hours a day, 7 days a week for 10 months in 1996-97.  It doesn’t get any worse than having leaders abuse those in their charge.  I continued my involvement through my retirement in May, 2000, and beyond.  For example, from 2004 to 2010, I served as a mentor for the Army’s Battle Command Training Program and worked with 35 colonel and general officer level commands.  My advice on preventing and responding to sexual misconduct was included in officer and non-commissioned officer professional development presentations to several hundred leaders in these commands.

In the Fall of 2010, I began writing a book on my experiences.  The first draft was over 980 pages, but, when it was self-published in 2013, it was pared down to 315 pages.  It still includes my experiences in detail.  That book, entitled “The GAMe:  Unraveling a Military Sex Scandal” was placed on the Army Chief of Staff’s Professional Reading List in 2014, and it is currently being used as a reference at the U. S. Army SHARP Academy where I serve as a guest presenter for each class.

I currently talk with and support both military and non-military organizations (schools, religious groups, non-profits and private sector businesses).  In addition to scores of survivors, I have met with or spoken to thousands of military leaders and SHARP program staff members since June, 2013.  Commanders, family members and survivors contact me directly for advice.

I just wanted to let you know up front that while the “Aberdeen Sex Scandal” occurred 19 years ago, I am still current in the issue of sexual assault in the military.    I respectfully submit, that no senior commander, past or present, has more hands on experience with regard to dealing with sexual misconduct in the military than I.

I am prepared to answer your questions and to elaborate on my positions with regard to:

  1.  There is no such thing as consensual sex between a student and a cadre member in a training environment.  Drill sergeants and other school cadre members who abuse their positions of authority or take advantage of the weaknesses of young trainees are perpetrators of sexual assault.  As a minimum the student is the victim of bad leadership even if he/she initiated the conduct.  Young people need positive adult leadership to show them the hard right not the easy wrong.
  2. At Aberdeen, our rape charges were based on the concept of constructive force. Leaders abused their positions of power. This is still going on today.
  3. I was not the General Court Martial Convening Authority at Aberdeen.  The installation commander fulfilled that role.  While it has plusses and minuses, I am convinced that a separate legal chain within the military to handle not only felony sexual misconduct, but also selected other felonies like murder, armed robbery, etc., is the way to go.  Not all, but certainly the majority of commanders and staff judge advocates I have talked to agree. Our separate legal chain enabled me to focus on my number one priority – identify and get help for the victims (survivors). Our separate legal chain also eliminated even the appearance of command influence and ensured the rights of both the alleged victims and alleged perpetrators were fully protected.
  4. This is a leadership and force protection issue.  Not a personnel issue. I believe the SHARP programs at OSD and the Services should be supervised by operations officers (J-3/G-3/S-3).

Thanks again for allowing me to be of assistance in helping any way I can to prevent the damage sexual misconduct offenders do to their survivors in particular and our military as an institution in general.