Posts Tagged With: Marine

Major Concerns Concerning Women In Combat.

Male Marines listed being falsely accused of sexual harassment or assault as a top concern in a survey about moving women into combat jobs, and thousands indicated the change could prompt them to leave the service altogether.

For a good look at what can happen when a female service member falsely accuses a male service member of sexual assault or rape, read this true story of a court-martial that was appealed all the way to the Supreme Court.

 (http://www.amazon.com/CONDUCT-UNBECOMING-Officer-Lady-ebook/dp/B006VPAADK)

The anonymous online questionnaire by the Marine Corps surveyed 53,000 troops last summer, with the results provided to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta before he opened thousands of combat positions to women last week.

The Marine Corps released the results to The Associated Press on Friday February 1, 2013.

Among the other top concerns listed by male Marines were possible fraternization and preferential treatment of some Marines.

Respondents also worried that women would be limited because of pregnancy or personal issues that could affect a unit before it’s sent to the battlefield.

Military experts said the results were not surprising because the Marines have the highest percentage of males among the branches of the armed forces.

Former Marine infantry officer Greg Jacob of the Service Women’s Action Network said the Pentagon‘s estimate that 86 percent of assault victims opt against filing complaints “suggests that there’s hardly an overabundance of reports, false or otherwise.”

Some, however, said the survey shows the need for sensitivity training and guidance from leadership so the change goes smoothly, as occurred when the military ended its policy that barred openly gay troops.

“I think there is this sense among what I would imagine is a very small minority of Marines that this male bastion is under siege and this is one more example of political correctness,” said David J. R. Frakt, a military law expert and lieutenant colonel in the Air Force reserves.

Just as the Marine Corps adjusted to the end of “don’t ask, don’t tell,” despite being the most resistant among the military branches, troops will likely fall in line again with this latest historical milestone, said Frakt, a visiting professor at the University of Pittsburgh.

Marine Corps officials did not respond to a request for comment on the survey results.

About 17 percent of male Marine respondents and 4 percent of female respondents who planned to stay in the service or were undecided said they would likely leave if women move into combat positions. That number jumped to 22 percent for male Marines and 17 percent for female Marines if women are assigned involuntarily to those jobs, according to the survey.

Both sexes mentioned intimate relationships between Marines and feeling obligated to protect female Marines among their top five concerns about the change.

Female Marines also said they worried about being targeted by enemies as POWs, the risk of sexual harassment or assault, and hygiene facilities, according to the survey, which did not give specifics.

The women surveyed also expressed concern about acceptance and physical abilities if given a ground combat job.

About 31 percent of female respondents — or 1,558 women Marines — say they would be interested in a lateral move to a combat position as their primary job, and 34 percent — or 1,636 — said they would volunteer for a ground combat unit assignment.

Elaine Donnelly of the conservative Center for Military Readiness and a vocal critic of the change said the survey asked the wrong questions and should have been asking if troops favor it and whether it will make a more effective force.

The questionnaire also relied on the “mistaken belief” that training standards will remain the same, which Donnelly said is not realistic given the differing physical abilities between the genders.

She said the Pentagon is bent on imposing gender-based quotas that will drive down standards. Defense leaders say standards will not be lowered.

“The results that are being put out there are designed to manage public perception,” she said. “There is a lot about this that still needs to be discussed and it’s really not fair to the women who serve out there.”

The infantry side is skeptical about how women will perform in their units, and some positions may end up closed again if too few females meet the physically demanding standards of combat, said Gen. James Amos, head of the Marine Corps, who spoke to reporters Thursday at a defense conference in San Diego.

“I think from the infantry side of the house, you know they’re more skeptical,” Amos said. “It’s been an all-male organization throughout the history of the U.S. Marine Corps so I don’t think that should be any surprise.”

Most Marines support the policy change, Amos said.

It will be up to the military service chiefs to recommend and defend whether women should be excluded from any of those more demanding and deadly positions, such as Navy commandos or the Army’s Delta Force.

Over the past decade, many male service members already have been fighting alongside women in Iraq and Afghanistan. Women who serve in supply units, as clerks and with military police have ended up on the unmarked front lines of modern warfare.

More than 150 women have been killed in wars in Iraq and Afghanistan while serving in support roles.

About 7 percent of Marines are female compared to about 14 percent overall for the armed forces.

Both sexes surveyed said getting women closer to the action will improve their career opportunities.

(Julie Watson, AP)

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Sexual Assault Conviction Thrown Out By (CAAF) Court Of Appeals For The Armed Forces.

Sexual Assault Conviction Thrown Out By Armed Forces Court Of Appeals.

by London Steversonon Monday, March 12, 2012 at 10:51am ·

Captain Nicholas Stewart, USMC.

 

The Court of Appeals for the Armed Forces threw out this week the sexual assault conviction of Marine Captain Nicholas Stewart, citing issues with the prosecution as well as improper action by a military judge.

Stewart, who served as a fighter pilot in Iraq, was convicted of sexual assault under a 2006 law that enabled the military to make charges in cases in which the victim was “substantially incapacitated” from alcohol. Stewart was accused by a longtime friend who said although she was not forced by Stewart, she was too inebriated to have consented to sex. Stewart challenged the accuser, but was convicted and sentenced to two years in prison. He was also registered as a sex offender.

As McClatchy reported Thursday, Stewart’s case was appealed, and the court found that the prosecution lacked evidence to support the accuser’s claims. The court also stated in its ruling that the military judge at Stewart’s initial trial had “created the framework for a potential double jeopardy violation” by having the jury re-deliberate the charges against Stewart. In the first deliberation, Stewart was found not guilty. However, when asked by the judge to consider what was essentially the same charge, the jury found the Marine to be guilty.

“As a result of the military judge’s instructions, [the jurors] were placed in the untenable position of finding Stewart both guilty and not guilty of the same offense,” wrote the appeals judges.

The 33-year-old Stewart, who had served more than a year of his sentence, expressed relief after the appeals court’s decision.

“I am grateful for this long-awaited proof of the integrity of our judicial system,” he said. “I look forward to continuing to serve our country and our Marine Corps.”

Stewart’s case illuminates issues that some have taken with the 2006 law. As McClatchy reported last year, the law has been described as “flawed” for its confusing language, as well as the fact that it shifts the burden of proof to the accused.

 

However, with recent Pentagon reports showing that sexual assault in the military has taken a dramatic rise, others worry that not enough is being done to prevent assault. After the report, which showed a 64 percent jump in assaults since 2006, was released, Secretary of Defense Leon Panetta announced plans to create new initiatives aimed at curbing the growing problem.

Several cases invoking the 2006 law have made the news recently, including the charging of three Air Force cadets with sexual assault. Two of those cadets were charged with assaulting women who were “substantially incapacitated.” These cases were also reportedly complicated by a lack of forensic evidence.

 

Compare this case to the Webster Smith case and you will see how fickle this court can be. The Smith Case was appealed to the Supreme Court. Most Supreme Court watchers had expected the Supreme Court to hear the case or at the very least to give an explanation of why not. We were all sorely disappointed.

 

 

Coast Guard Academy Cadet Webster Smith

This Smith Case implicated a deep federal circuit conflict regarding the standard of review that applies when a trial judge’s restriction on the cross-examination of a prosecution witness is challenged on appeal as a violation of the Confrontation Clause. The Court of Appeals for the  Armed Forces (CAAF) held that the standard of review is abuse of discretion rather than de novo. Applying the former standard, the court rejected Webster Smith’s Confrontation Clause claim by a vote of 3-2.

The Courts Of Appeals Are Deeply Divided Over What Standard Of Review Applies To Confrontation Clause Claims Like Webster Smith’s. The CAAF employed abuse-of-discretion review in resolving Smith’s Sixth Amendment challenge to the military judge’s restriction on the defense’s cross-examination of Shelly Roddenbush. That approach conflicts with the holdings of five circuits, which consider comparable Confrontation Clause claims de novo, reserving abuse-of-discretion review for non-constitutional challenges. For example, the Seventh Circuit has stated that “[o]rdinarily, a district court’s evidentiary rulings are reviewed for abuse of discretion.

However, when the restriction [on cross-examination] implicates the criminal defendant’s Sixth Amendment right to confront witnesses against him, … the standard of review becomes de novo.”

The First, Fifth, Eighth, and Tenth Circuits have adopted the same approach.

Six other circuits, by contrast—the Second, Third, Fourth, Sixth, Eleventh, and District of Columbia Circuits— Take  the same approach that CAAF does, applying abuse-of-discretion review even when a restriction on the cross-examination of a prosecution witness is attacked on constitutional grounds. The Sixth Circuit, for example, stated in one case that “[defendant] argues that his right to confrontation was violated when the trial court ‘unfairly’ limited his cross-examination of [a] government witness .… We review the district court’s restriction on a defendant’s right to cross-examine witnesses for abuse of discretion.”

In short, CAAF’s use of an abuse-of-discretion standard in the Webster Smith Case perpetuated a clear—and recognized—conflict in the circuits.

The Question Presented Was Recurring And Important, And The Smith Case Was A Good Vehicle For Deciding It.

The circuit conflict warranted resolution by the Supreme Court. It was indeed a sad day for Supreme Court watchers when that court of Last Resort side stepped an issue of monumental importance without a word of explanation.

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The Force Factor In Sexual Assault Cases.

Force Was the Deciding Factor In The Rape Case.

The use of force appears to have been the deciding factor for the Convening Authority in the Air Force Academy sexual assault Article 32 Investigation. Anyone who used force in the sexual assault was referred for trial by court-martial; whereas, anyone who was patient and waited for the alcohol to take its toll was allowed to go scott free.
That is so ironic, because the only one who achieved vaginal penetration with his organ was allowed to go free. He dodged a bullet. However, on the other hand, the cadet who used his fists in the act of sexual assault never got further than heavy petting and massaging of the genitalia.

The Cadet Kyle Cressy incidents date to May 2011. The charges state that he penetrated a female cadet’s vagina with his hand or finger, as well as his penis, while she was “substantially incapacitated.” Cressy’s charges have been dropped by the Air Force Convening Authority on the recommendation of the Article 32 Investigating Officer. Cressy’s accuser said she passed out on his bed, then awoke to find a man touching and then having sex with her. She testified that she kissed him before blacking out and never said “no” — and while she recalled trying to push his hands away, the mitigating evidence, combined with a two-day delay before she reported having been assaulted, appear to have been factors in the Convening Authority’s, Brigadier General Richard Clark’s, decision to drop the charges against him.

Air Force officials say testimony about alcohol consumption was among the reasons they decided not to prosecute Cressy on sexual assault charges. In a statement released 5 March the Academy spokesperson said Article 32 Investigating Officer assigned to Cressy’s case found no reasonable grounds to prosecute. He cited testimony that the alleged victim wrote and sent a text message that she couldn’t recall, and expert testimony that it’s possible for someone to consent to sex and suffer an alcohol blackout preventing recall of the event.

Cadet Stephan Claxton, AFA Class 2013, was charged with illicit acts in March and November of last year. In the first, he’s said to have placed a cadet’s hand on his penis while engaging in underage drinking. In the second, he is accused of striking a fellow cadet on the face with his fist and unbuttoning and unzipping her pants without her consent, as well as forcibly kissing and choking her. Claxton was recommended for court martial buy the Article 32 Investigating Officer.

The court-martial was recommended by Maj. Gen. Richard Clark, Commandant of Cadets and the academy’s special court-martial convening authority. The decision is pending with Lt. Gen. Mike Gould, Superintendent and the Academy’s General Court-martial Convening Authority. Vice Superintendent Col. Tamara Rank said, “We expect the best from our cadets and do not tolerate unacceptable behaviors.”
The Cressy and Claxton hearings concluded with very different results.

The Article 32 hearing for Cadet First Class Robert M. Evenson, Class of 2011, is still under way. Evenson had three charges preferred against him in January for allegations of engaging in an unprofessional relationship, rape, aggravated sexual assault contact and indecent acts and conduct unbecoming to an officer.

Three additional charges were preferred against him last month and are under investigation. They include wrongful sexual contact and indecent acts, stalking and assault.
It appears that force and the use of force will be the new battle ground in the battle between women and the military when it comes to disposing of rape and sexual assault allegations.
In a major law suit filed by 8 present and former US Marine Corps female officers, the use of physical force is being challenged as an unnecessary element in the proof of the offense. The women argue that proof of force should not be necessary in the modern world. They argue that modern rapists are more methodical and patient; they wait for the drugs or alcohol to lower the females capacity to give or withhold consent. Once the ability to give informed consent is so impaired then the women can be raped and the rapist is left with plausible deniability if the case is prosecuted.
The women and their attorney seek to change the UCMJ and the military male-dominated culture on the issue of force in the conduct of rape and sexual assault. They want to rewrite Article 120 of the UCMJ to remove proof of the use of force as an element of the crime.
In the Webster Smith Case force was not an issue. All of the sexual encounters were found to be consensual. The Coast Guard prosecutor was reduced to trying to prove that psychological coercion was used to persuade a female to take nude pictures and perform a sexual act. Amazingly this woman’s reputation in the community since high school was that of a person with easy virtue who delivered the good faster than Federal Express. The very nature of her secret that was at the heart of the alleged coercion was about a sexual tryst with an enlisted man from another branch of the service. And to top it all off, the woman was testifying under a grant of immunity. Truly amazing, it is hard to make this stuff up.
A press conference was held at the National Press Conference Tuesday March 6, 2012 to announce a new lawsuit being filed in the US District Court in Washington, DC on behalf of eight current and former members of the Navy and Marine Corps. The lawsuit, filed by Susan L. Burke of Burke PLLC, charges that the “laws designed to reduce rape, sexual assault and harassment in the Navy and Marine Corps directly and seriously harmed Plaintiffs and others who have reported rape and sexual assault and have challenged sexual harassment. Rather than being respected and appreciated for reporting crimes and unprofessional conduct, Plaintiffs and others who report are branded ‘troublemakers,’ endure egregious and blatant retaliation, and are often forced out of military service.”

The lead plaintiffs, Adriana Klay and Elle Helmer, stationed at the central command headquarters of the Marines in Washington, DC, are both former Marine officers. Klay was a merit scholar and is an honors graduate of the US Naval Academy. She was sexually harassed and gang raped by a senior Marine Corps officer and his civilian friend in order to “humiliate her.” Elle Helmer, the Public Affairs Officer and Official Spokesperson for the Marines, was ordered to participate in a “pub crawl” by her immediate superior officer and then raped by him.

Speakers at the press conference included Susan Burke, Eleanor Smeal, Anu Bhagwati, Executive Director and Co-Founder of Service Women’s Action Network (SWAN), Linda Hallman, Executive Director of American Association of University Women (AAUW), Nancy Parrish, President of Protect our Defenders, and Colonel Ann Wright, who is retired from the military.
“Although defendants testified before Congress and elsewhere that they have ‘zero tolerance’ for rape and sexual assault, their conduct and the facts demonstrate the opposite: They have a high tolerance for sexual predators in their ranks, and ‘zero tolerance’ for those who report rape, sexual assault and harassment,” according to the lawsuit filed in the U.S. District Court in Washington.

The suit outlines a pattern of abuse and portrays, in grim detail, the alleged experiences of the eight female service members — two former Marine Corps officers, one active duty enlisted Marine, one former enlisted member of the Marine Corps and four former enlisted members of the Navy.

“At first it was easy to laugh it off,” plaintiff Elle Helmer, one of the former officers, said about her superiors’ advances.
“When you finally said, you know, I’m really not interested, I’d rather we be friends — that’s when you became the target. They hated you for standing up for yourself,” she told HLN’s Jane Velez-Mitchell on Tuesday night.

The lawsuit alleges Helmer was raped by her superior at his office in March 2006 after a required pub crawl.

She told reporters at the National Press Club in Washington earlier in the day that she hoped by going public other victims would be encouraged to speak out.

“We all just wanted to serve our country and be good Marines and service members,” former Marine Lt. Elle Helmer said. “Ultimately we were failed.”

Helmer is one of eight current and former female service members who filed a lawsuit alleging rape, sexual assault and harassment while serving in the military.

Click here to read the entire lawsuit

“It’s very hard to come forward and admit what they would call weakness, but what I would call strength in the sense that people are coming forward and asking for help,” Helmer said.

She claims her assault occurred while stationed at the Marine Corps Barracks in Washington, DC, as a public affairs officer.

She says after being ordered to attend a Marine Corps-endorsed pub crawl and drink excessively, her boss, a major, ordered her back to his office and raped her.

“Ultimately I fell and hit my head on the corner of his desk and was knocked out,” she said. “During the time I was knocked out was when the rape occurred.”

Helmer says she was ultimately forced out of the Marine Corps, which she says is far too common with other victims.

“The Department of Defense is ultimately losing good personnel, and victims are becoming collateral damage,” Helmer said.

The lawsuit claims many of the men questioned were barely punished, if at all. It’s an issue Helmer says goes beyond the service women who report the assaults.

“My rapist was served collateral duties at the White House,” she said. “With that said, these people guard the president.”

Helmer says she hopes the lawsuit is a catalyst for change and the military realizes how big this problem really is.

“Take care of your people, and if you’re losing your people, it’s ultimately weakening a nation. It’s a homeland security issue,” she said.

“It’s the first time I’ve had a voice in six years, so pardon if it’s a little wobbly,” said Helmer.

She was joined by Ariana Klay, another former Marine Corps officer and plaintiff, who served in Iraq in 2008 and 2009.

In August 2010, Klay was “gang-raped” by a senior officer and his civilian friend at her Washington home, the suit contends. The officer allegedly threatened to kill Klay.

She reported the rapes and the officer was eventually convicted in a military court of adultery and indecent language, and given 45 days in military confinement, Klay said.

“Their stance was there were two that said it (sex) was consensual, despite the death threat. That’s two against one. So by that logic, the more people you’re gang-raped by the less your case is,” she told Velez-Mitchell.

The Marine Corps responded to Klay and Helmer’s allegations in a written statement Tuesday that said their respective cases had been properly investigated and handled.

“Federal law and judicial rulings require commanders in all services, including the Marine Corps, to balance needs of alleged victims with the constitutional rights of service members accused of crimes,” it read.
Smeal asserted, “The women’s movement is determined to end this wonton violence against women in the armed services. The definition of rape in the military must change to comply with the new FBI definition, which has recognized that force need not be present, but rather in modern rape alcohol and drugs are used to subdue the victim. The cover-up for a few predator abusers in the military is injuring women, men, and the armed services themselves.”

The Pentagon’s “Fiscal Year 2010 Annual Report on Sexual Assault in the Military” indicated that approximately 3,000 women experienced sexual assault in fiscal year 2008, which is a 9 percent increase from the previous year. Experts say that the real rate of sexual assault in the military is five times report incidence. Because of the high level of retaliation, victims are afraid to report. For women in the military in Iraq and Afghanistan, the rate of sexual assaults by US military personnel increased by 25 percent.

According to a 2003 study by the Veterans Affairs Medical Center, at least one-third of all women veterans have experienced rape or sexual assault during their service primarily from US service personnel, and thirty percent of military women experience domestic violence. Moreover, rape occurs in the military nearly twice as often as in the civilian world.
According to the most recent Defense Department study, more than 19,000 incidents of unwanted sexual contact are estimated to have occurred in 2010, though less than 3,000 of those events were reported.

In 2010, less than 21% of reported cases went to trial. Of the 529 alleged perpetrators who were prosecuted, 53% were convicted, according to the 2011 Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, which is part of the Defense Department.

“As leaders of this department we are committed to doing everything we can to ensure the safety, dignity and well being of our people. One sexual assault is one too many,” Defense Department spokeswoman Cynthia Smith said in response to the lawsuit.

As a result of the pending litigation, she was unable to comment directly on the allegations.

“Because sexual assault cases are some of the toughest cases to investigate and prosecute, the department has increased funding for investigators and judge advocates to receive specialized training,” said Smith.

The lawsuit was filed less than two months after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta outlined new measures targeting sexual assaults against U.S military personnel.

In January, he promised increased funding to train military investigators and judge advocates about sexual assault cases, stressing the military has a “zero tolerance policy” for such crimes.

“Our men and women in uniform put their lives on the line every day to try to keep America safe,” Panetta said then. “We have a moral duty to keep them safe from those who would attack their dignity and their honor.”
http://www.amazon.com/Judge-London-Steverson/e/B006WQKFJM

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