Protect Our Defenders News Blog


Media Advisory: Protect Our Defenders Nancy Parrish to Address US Commission on Civil Rights Briefing

**If you would like to receive a preview of Protect Our Defenders President Nancy Parrish’ remarks please contact me.

Wednesday, January 9, 2013
Contact: Brian Purchia, ,



The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will hold a day-long public briefing on DoD’s policies and practices concerning sexual assault on Friday, January 11, 2013

Washington DC – On Friday, January 11, 2013 the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will hold a day-long public briefing on Department of Defense policies and practices concerning sexual assault. Protect Our Defenders’ President, Nancy Parrish, will be speaking on the first panel of the day. If you would like to receive a preview of Nancy’s remarks please contact me. A full agenda with participants is below.

The Department of Veteran Affairs estimates that there are now over a half a million veterans that have experienced military sexual trauma. According to the military’s own reports, there are 19,000 (10,000 male) victims a year of mostly unpunished rape and sexual assault throughout the military. Yet only 13.5% come forward. Many survivors tell us they don’t come forward out of fear of retaliation and victim blaming.

“Secretary Panetta is correct in stating that unpunished sexual assault in our military is an epidemic. It has been for decades and continues to undermine mission readiness and unit cohesion,” said Nancy Parrish, President of Protect Our Defenders. “Although the military has taken action, it is important to acknowledge that these actions have not resulted in a reduction in the scope of the problem. Sexual assault in our military has a deeply rooted cultural component and until prosecutions increase dramatically, the culture that allows this problem to continue will persist.”

Earlier this week, the House Armed Services Committee (HASC) announced it would hold a hearing on the widening sexual abuse scandal at Lackland Air Force Base in San Antonio, Texas. Late last year more than 15,000 citizens and sexual assault survivors demanded on, Protect Our Defenders and in person that Congress do its job and protect our service men and women. Seventy-eight members of Congress also called on Rep. Buck McKeon to hold a hearing on Lackland.

“We are looking for Congress to provide responsible and aggressive oversight of DoD in regard to fixing the broken justice system and implementing reforms previously passed by Congress as legislatively intended,” said Parrish. “The deference and patience Congress has shown the Pentagon in regard to ending this crisis has come at a great cost to service members who are victims of rape, assault and harassment within our military.”

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights plans to gather information on how the DoD: (1) Educates service members, generally, about the DoD’s sexual assault policies; (2) Educates officers on how to process reports of sexual assault; (3) Assists sexual assault victims to file reports and receive needed medical/social services; (4) Investigates sexual assault reports, including the gathering and retention of evidence; and (5) Disciplines perpetrators, with a special focus on the process by which officers decide what form(s) of discipline to impose.

Active and former service members, particularly those who have been the victim of sexual assault or have been accused of sexual assault, are encouraged to submit written comments by Monday, February 11. Comments may be submitted by mail to the address above; emailed to, or faxed to 202-376-1163.

WHEN:             Friday, January 11, 2013 at 9:30 AM ET

WHERE:           Commission headquarters, 1331 Pennsylvania Ave. NW, Suite 1150, Washington, DC 20425

*The entrance to the building is on F St, between the Dress Barn and the National Press Building. Please come to the 11th Floor of the North Tower entrance of National Place.  The double glass doors of Suite 1150 will be open to the public.

Briefing Agenda:

Perspective of Victim and Accused – 9:30 am to 10:55 am

1. Rachel Natelson Legal Director, Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN)

2. Phillip D. Cave, Commander, U.S. Navy (Ret.) Law Office of Phillip D. Cave (Defense Counsel)

3. Nancy Parish President, Protect Our Defenders

4. Bridget Wilson, Major, California Guard, U.S. Army Reserve, Enlisted (Ret.) Rosenstein, Wilson & Dean, P.L.C. (Defense Counsel)

Academic Scholar Panel – 11:05 am to 12:30 pm

1. Dwight H. Sullivan George Washington University Law School

2. Elizabeth Hillman, University of California, Hastings, School of Law

3. Victor Hansen, New England School of Law

4. David Lisak, Ph.D. University of Massachusetts, Boston, Department of Psychology

Break 12:30 to 1:15pm

Military Panel – 1:15 pm to 2:45 pm

1. Major General Gary Patton Director, Pentagon’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office (SAPRO)

2. Nate Galbreath, MSF, Ph.D. Highly Qualified Expert, SAPRO

3. Lieutenant General Richard C. Harding, Judge Advocate General, U.S. Department of the Air Force

4. Vice Admiral Nanette M. DeRenzi, Judge Advocate General, U.S. Department of the Navy

5. Lieutenant General Dana K. Chipman Judge Advocate General, U.S. Department of the Army

6. Major General Vaughn Ary, Staff Judge Advocate to the Commandment of the Marine Corps

Reuters: Congress to hold hearing on sexual abuse in military,0,557530.story

San Antonio Express-News: Lackland misdeeds are about abuse of power, not sex:

WOAI News: Congress will probe Lackland sex scandal:

Paula Coughlin-Puopolo’s petition demanding Congress investigates the Lackland sexual assault scandal can be viewed here:

About Protect Our Defenders: Protect Our Defenders is a human rights organization.  We seek to honor, support and give voice to the brave women and men in uniform who have been sexually assaulted while serving their country, and re-victimized by the military adjudication system – a system that often blames the victim and fails to prosecute the perpetrator. Learn more about Protect Our Defenders at or on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter at

Protect Our Defenders supports Attorney Susan Burke, Burke PLLC to advance lawsuits filed against the DoD and service academies for repeatedly ignoring rape, sexual assault and harassment, failing to prosecute perpetrators and retaliating against the victim.