FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
*** MEDIA ADVISORY ***
PROTECT OUR DEFENDERS PRESIDENT COL DON CHRISTENSEN (RET.) TO TESTIFY AT CONGRESSIONAL HEARING AFTER 47% INCREASE IN SEXUAL ASSAULT AT MILITARY SERVICE ACADEMIES
Former Air Force Chief Prosecutor to Call on Military Leadership to Empower Military Prosecutors or Turn Over All Academy Sexual Assault Cases to the Civilian Justice Systems
Washington DC – On Wednesday, February 13th, the House Armed Services Military Personnel Subcommittee will hold a hearing on the results of the Sexual Assault and Violence Report at the Military Services Academies. The report published last month by the Department of Defense (DOD), showed a 47% increase in military academy sexual assault cases since the same report was last released in 2017. During the 2015-2016 academic year, 12.2% of women, or 507 victims, reported sexual assault, and from 2017-2018, that number rose to 15.8%, or 747 victims. This year’s report also shows over 50% of academy women reporting sexual harassment in the academic year.
At the hearing, former Air Force Chief Prosecutor and Protect Our Defenders (POD) President, Col Don Christensen (Ret.), will appear on a panel of government and military officials to discuss plans to address the longstanding failure of service leadership to resolve the crisis of sexual assault in the academies despite overwhelming evidence of the problem. In 2017, news broke of the Air Force Academy’s efforts to sweep sexual assaults under the rug and punish victims, culminating in CBS’s 2018 Emmy-winning coverage of rampant sexual assault and the mishandling of these cases by the Air Force Academy. Yet despite broken promises from the military, the results of the DoD report confirm that no successful action has been taken.
In response to the report’s alarming numbers, Protect Our Defenders (POD) called on Congress and the President to hold a hearing and take swift and actionable steps to finally address the problem at hand, including replacing ineffective military leadership and empowering military prosecutors to turn over all academy sexual assault cases to the civilian justice systems. POD supports Congresswoman Jackie Speier’s, Chairwoman of the Military Personnel Subcommittee, efforts to hold military leadership accountable for their negligence in response to a worsening crisis.
What: Military Personnel Subcommittee Hearing: Military Service Academies’ Action Plans to Address the Results of Sexual Assault and Violence Report at the Military Service Academies
- Col Don Christensen, USAF (Ret.), President, Protect Our Defenders
- COL Lawrence J. Morris, USA (Ret.), Chief of Staff, The Catholic University of America
- Dr. Elizabeth P. Van Winkle, Executive Director, Force Resiliency, Office of the Under Secretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness
- LTG Darryl A. Williams, USA, Superintendent, United States Military Academy
- VADM Walter E. Carter Jr., USN, Superintendent, United States Naval Academy
- Lt Gen Jay B. Silveria, USAF, Superintendent, United States Air Force Academy
When: Wednesday, February 13th at 2:00 PM EST
Where: 2212 Rayburn House Office Building (45 Independence Ave SW, Washington, DC)
Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office Report: http://sapr.mil/index.php/reports
Colorado Springs Independent: Air Force Academy Has a Distorted View of Sexual Assault Says Former Employee: https://www.csindy.com/coloradosprings/air-force-academy-has-a-distorted-view-of-sexual-assault-says-former-employee/Content?oid=6402155
CBS News: Current and Former Cadets Speak Out on Sexual Assault at Air Force Academy: https://www.cbsnews.com/news/air-force-academy-sexual-harassment-retaliation-allegations/
House Military Personnel Subcommittee Hearing Agenda: https://armedservices.house.gov/hearings?ID=C4159314-DEA9-4BA1-BA01-6C2BAFEE6ED9
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 www.protectourdefenders.com or on Facebook at http://facebook.com/ProtectOurDefenders or follow us on Twitter at https://twitter.com/ProtectRDfnders.
Protect Our Defenders advances 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.