Protect Our Defenders News Blog


Transcript of MSNBC Interview with Virginia Messing and Susan Burke

Read the full transcript of Rev. Al Sharpton’s interview with Lackland survivor Virginia Messing and her attorney Susan Burke, who has collaborated with Protect Our Defenders on a series of lawsuits:


March 5, 2013 Tuesday


POLITICS NATION for March 5, 2013

BYLINE: Al Sharpton; Krystal Ball

GUESTS: James Peterson; Richard Blumenthal, Ed Rendell, Richard Wolffe, Virginia Messick, Attorney Susan Burke


LENGTH: 6326 words

REVEREND AL SHARPTON, MSNBC ANCHOR: Thanks, Michael. And thanks to you for tuning in.

Tonight`s lead. Race to the top. Big news today from Wall Street as the stock market hit an all-time high. It`s big news for business. But the middle class and poor are getting hammered. We will talk about that in a moment. First, the market`s big jump today.

[Excerpt of transcript]

Coming up, an Air Force sexual assault investigation at a base in San Antonio. Virginia Messick, the first victim at the base to speak publicly shares her story, next.

SHARPTON: The first victim to speak publicly about the sexual assault scandal at the Lackland Air Force Base joins us, next.


SHARPTON: Now to an important story about our military. The sexual assault investigations at Laughlin Air Force Base in San Antonio. The base is home to the Air Force where every American airman and airwoman reports for basic training. He`s also the scene of a massive sexual assault investigation. Sixty two trainees have been identified as victims of sexual assault. At least 32 instructors are involved.
Seven instructors have already been court-martialed. One of the instructors staff Sergeant Luis Walker was sentenced to 20 years in prison for crimes involving ten women including Virginia Messer. She was a 19- year-old recruit in April of 2011 when Sergeant Walker lured her into an empty room in the dorm and raped her. It`s been difficult. A difficult journey. But now she`s telling her story. She`s the first victim to speak publicly about the scandal at Lackland Air Force Base.

Virginia Messick and her Attorney Susan Burke join me now. First, let me thank both of you for being here.


SUSAN BURKE, MESSICK`S ATTORNEY: Thank you. Thank you for having us.

SHARPTON: Virginia, take me through the story. I mean, what happened and how did it happen?

MESSICK: When I was in basic training, my instructor had actually started letting me use Facebook and e-mail because I had a friend in Afghanistan who he wanted me to say that in a professional way that everybody need a friend while they were overseas. So over those types of weeks, he would let me use his private computer to let me proceed with doing that.

And then it started to where he would make sexual comments to me and he would try and grope me. And at first I was just trying to get away from it and told him don`t come near me. And one day, I was actually on laundry crew assistant which is where I did laundry for all females during basic training at all times. And he pulled me out from my job and told me to meet him upstairs because there were some detail towels I need to go and get from the upstairs dorm which was empty at the time because a new flight was coming in.

And when he told me to come up, he told me to wait five minutes for the cameras. And I followed him up to the dorm and that`s when he pulled me into the dorm room and I walked inside of a door and he closed it behind me.


And that`s when he proceeded to rape me.

SHARPTON: Now, when — and I know this is painful, but I admire your courage for coming out publicly so this can stop this from happening to others. When investigators first asked you about the attack, you down played it. And this happens often with victims. Why did you do that?

MESSICK: When the investigators came to speak with me, I had no idea what they were there for. They walked right into my base and they dragged me into a room and they said they had already knew everything. That I needed to tell them what happened. And I basically sat there for two and a half hours and didn`t tell them anything. I wouldn`t talk to them. So one of the investigators got very hostile with me.
And he threw a piece of paper and pen down and told me that if I wrote a statement that he would leave me alone. I don`t understand where at any point if since my rape do I ever want to express what happened to me to two complete strangers especially now a male investigator who`s being hostile towards me.

MESSICK: There`s no way I`m going to want to talk to them.

SHARPTON: Now, you face your attacker at a court-martial last year. What was going through your mind when he was testifying?

MESSICK: Anger. It was just complete and pure anger. And at one point when I did testify, I completely just let it go. I`ve got angry. I yelled and screamed and did whatever I needed to do. Because I was not — I`m not afraid of him. That was my main mind thought when I was going in through the court was because I wasn`t supposed to be scared of him.
It`s my turn for him to be scared of me. And afterwards, even though I still have so much pent up anger due just from PTSD, period, I went ahead and did what I needed to do. I was in court and for that being the first time that I`m facing him, let him know how I felt and what he did to me. And I walked out.

SHARPTON: Wow! Now, Susan, the Air Force have said they have taken preventive steps. And the Generals say, no reports of misconduct in the last seven months. Is the problem solves? “The New York Times” story says quote, “Air Force commanders say they have taken preventive actions in Lackland. There wasn`t much supervision said Major General Leonard A. Patrick who is in-charge of the Air Force enlisted training. But now we want to put more leadership into the equation and more accountability. Is the problem solved?

BURKE: No, Reverend, not at all. You and I are both old enough to remember tail hook back in 1991. What we have is a series of rape and sexual assault scandals that once in awhile rise to public attention. And we much appreciate you covering the issue, but there`s a structural problem. There`s significant underreporting. Most men and women do not report being raped because they know it will not be treated seriously. And the way the structure is set up, a single person in the chain of command, a single individual, has the power, unsettled power to simply wipe away a conviction of a jury. This happens time and time again and so predators know that they`re able to get away with it. The victims know that there is no justice. And so we really as a nation, we need to ask ourselves why are we letting this problem go on decade after decade? We`ve got to step forward and Congress has to act.


SHARPTON: Well, we`re going to stay on it. Virginia, thank you so much for standing up in your courage and sharing your story. And Susan, we thank you as well. And we will continue to follow developments as they unfold.

BURKE: Thank you so much.

MESSICK: Thank you for letting me share my story.

SHARPTON: God bless you. We`ll be right back.




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