Last year when we aired our documentary feature, “An ‘Occupational Hazard’: Rape in the Military,” the Department of Defense estimated that there were 19,000 sexual assaults committed on an annual basis. A new report was released this spring indicating that rate has increased almost 40-percent to 26,000 incidents a year. Some progress has been made (women are now allowed to apply for combat roles), but the key obstacle still exists. The reporting procedure for sexual assault still remains in the chain of command, which creates a conflict of interest in prosecuting those crimes. Senator Kirsten Gillibrand has introduced an amendment to change that reporting procedure, but there is still stiff opposition amongst military brass – even amongst some of Gillibrand’s fellow Democrats.
Thursday’s show is an update to what’s happening, or not, related to military sexual trauma.
Paula Coughlin was a Lieutenant in the United States Navy who became a whistleblower in 1992, launching the investigation into what is known as the “Tailhook scandal.” Now a board member for Protect Our Defenders, and angry that she’s still fighting this issue 22 years later.
In November 2012, Lt. Col James Wilkerson was convicted of aggravated sexual assault against a civilian contractor. He was dismissed from the Air Force and sentenced to one year in jail, but his commander overturned the conviction and freed the star pilot, reinstating him back into the Air Force. Now Wilkerson has been reassigned to Davis-Monthan Air Force Base in Tucson, Arizona. The victim’s brother, Dr. Stephen Hanks, lives in Tucson and he’ll discuss the ongoing humiliation for his family.
After the recent events related to sexual trauma in the military, Bob revisits Ariana and Ben Klay who were officers in the U.S. Marine Corps when Ariana was sexually assaulted in her home by two men, one a fellow Marine officer. Ariana attempted suicide before both husband and wife resigned from the Marines due to a string of humiliating actions by the military in command. Her attacker was one of the few prosecuted by court martial, but his conviction was lessened to “adultery.” Ariana says what happened definitely was not consensual. You can hear her and Ben describe their painful crime in our documentary which aired last July, “An ‘Occupational Hazard’: Rape in the Military.”