Protect Our Defenders News Blog


Mother Jones: Reporting Sexual Abuse in the Military Is “Inherently Unfair.” Here’s Why.

Protect Our Defenders President Col Don Christensen and Board of Directors Member Paula Coughlin are featured in this piece from Mother Jones:

“In the military, your rapists’ boss decides whether or not a sexual-assault allegation is investigated,” Christensen says. “This puts commanders in an impossible position.”

One reason commanders might brush off reports of assault or harassment is that they don’t want the black mark of a crime tainting their records, and there are few consequences for not reporting the crime. “Military justice implies it’s a requirement” to report rape, says Paula Coughlin, but “it isn’t enforced.” When Christensen was a prosecutor, commanders would constantly reschedule meetings and ignore phone calls to keep him from speaking with witnesses. In the past, including during the Lackland scandal, military officers who did not report instances of sexual assault were suspended or officially reprimanded, but rarely seriously charged.

Read more here.