Protect Our Defenders News Blog


Media Advisory: Protect Our Defenders to Read Statement from Aviano Sexual Assault Victim

**Survivor Brian Lewis, Petty Officer Third Class Navy Ret. and Protect Our Defenders Advocacy Board Member will testify at the Senate Hearing on on Sexual Assaults in the Military on Wednesday. If you would like to receive an embargoed copy of Brian’s testimony please email me. Brian and other survivors are also available for interviews.


March 12, 2013
Contact: Brian Purchia,




In latest Air Force scandal — Lt. Gen. Craig Franklin ignores jury decision and reinstates CLt. Col James Wilkerson who was sentenced to year in prison and dismissed from the military for sexual assault

Washington DC –
 Ahead of Wednesday’s Senate Hearing on sexual assault in the military, Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) and Congressman Bruce Braley (D-Iowa) will introduce legislation to strip military commanders of their power to overturn legal decisions or lessen sentences handed down by judges and juries at courts martial. The Lieutenant General at Aviano Air Base, Craig Franklin overturned the sexual assault conviction of CLt. Col James Wilkerson who had been sentenced to a year in prison and dismissed from the armed forces by a jury of his peers. No explanation was provided.

Protect Our Defenders President Nancy Parrish will read a portion of a written statement from the victim at the introduction of the Military Judicial Reform Act on TuesdayMarch 12 at 12:30pm ET in the Cannon House Office BuildingThe press conference will be streamed live:

The full statement will be submitted to the Senate on Wednesday. The victim reached out to Protect Our Defenders after looking for support after the verdict in her case was set aside. Brian Lewis, Petty Officer Third Class Navy Ret. and Protect Our Defenders Advocacy Board Member will also testify at the Senate Hearing. If you would like to receive embargoed copies of the victim’s statement, Nancy’s remarks or Brian’s testimony please email me.

Susan Burke, an attorney who has filed lawsuits on behalf of dozens of victims of military rape or sexual assault, and Kirby Dick, the Director of the Academy Award nominated documentary The Invisible War, will also speak at the event.

WHAT:            Press Conference

*Streamed live:

WHO:               Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D- San Francisco/San Mateo)

Congressman Bruce Braley (D-IA)

Nancy Parrish
President, Protect our Defenders

Susan Burke

Kirby Dick
Director, The Invisible War

*Survivors and Protect Our Defenders President, Nancy Parrish are available for interviews before the press conference.


WHEN:             12:30 PM EST, March 12th

WHERE:           210 Cannon House Office Building

Watch the Senate hearing on Sexual Assault in the Military on Wednesday at 10 AM EST

Washington Post: Air Force general¹s reversal of pilot’s sexual-assault conviction angers lawmakers

New York Times: Hagel to Open Review of Sexual Assault Case

Wired Magazine: Air Force’s Accountability for Sexual Assault: Not Promoting Convicted Officer

San Antonio Express-News: Hearings on Lackland are long overdue

NBC News: Civil Rights Commission urged to order audit of military sex-assault cases

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 or on Facebook at or follow us on Twitter at        

Protect Our Defenders partners with 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.