Protect Our Defenders News Blog



Washington, DC – Last Friday, Army Colonel Kathryn A. Spletstoser, who served two combat tours in Iraq and two in Afghanistan as part of her 28-year career, publicly came forward accusing Air Force General John Hyten of sexual assault. General Hyten is President Trump’s nominee for vice chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff and is slated to appear before the Senate Armed Service Committee for a confirmation hearing tomorrow. If confirmed, he would become the country’s No. 2 military officer, helping to oversee the 1.2 million active-duty American troops at home and deployed around the world.

Colonel Spletstoser’s case highlights longstanding defects in the Uniform Code of Military Justice (UCMJ) that fail to deliver accountability to military sex offenders. The military’s most recent report on sexual assault says over 20,000 military men and women were victims of sexual assault or rape in 2018. Of those, most went unreported, and almost all went unpunished. General Hyten’s nomination exemplifies the legally-enforced cycle within the UCMJ that relieves perpetrators of accountability for their crimes.

Col. Don Christensen (ret.), the former Chief Prosecutor of the United State Air Force and President of Protect Our Defenders, released the following statement:

“The Senate cannot in good conscience confirm General Hyten. Colonel Spletstoser has bravely reported the criminal actions of her commander and has cooperated fully with the rushed investigation by the Air Force. In other words, she has taken the very steps military leadership claims they want survivors to take. Moreover, she has publicly identified herself in order to stand by her allegations.

“The question before the Senate is not whether General Hyten should be tried and convicted, it is whether he should become the second highest-ranking member of the U.S. Armed Forces. There is no evidence that Colonel Spletstoser has fabricated a single word of her allegations or has anything to gain by coming forward. In fact, quite the opposite.

“If General Hyten is confirmed, the effect on military survivors will be devastating. The clear message will be stay silent, you will not be believed. The actions of the Air Force have already told survivors that they will side with the powerful over the victim. The Senate must not reinforce that message.”

New York Times: ‘I Have a Moral Responsibility to Come Forward’: Colonel Accuses Top Military Nominee of Assault:

Senate Armed Services Committee: Senate Armed Services Committee to Hold Nomination Hearing for Vice Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff Next Tuesday:

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 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.