On March 13, 2014 Rep. Jackie Speier asked for and was granted permission to address the United States House of Representatives for 5 minutes regarding sexual abuse and rape in the US military.
“Mr. Speaker, I rise today to tell a story of a 17-year-old Catholic school girl from the Seattle suburbs whose dreams to join the Marine Corps were destroyed by a sexual predator.
The girl’s recruiter, after discussing sexual harassment policy with her, decided to give her a big hug, then lifted her on his lap and fondled her breasts. He then tried to get her to perform oral sex on him at another visit to the Marine recruiting office; and on a third occasion, he had her fondle his genitals while the girl was riding in his car.
She told the King County District Attorney’s Office that she felt pressured into the sexual contact to get a position within the Corps.
While King County investigators found the girl’s claims to be credible, the recruiter’s chain of command within the Marine Corps did not and returned him to his job after a brief suspension, while the high school student was denied justice and denied the job of her dreams.
Just Google “Marines sex scandal,” and you will find this article and several other scandalous stories about soldiers who hold these positions of trust.
These are exactly the type of stories that prompted Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to issue a directive last May to require the screening of sexual assault counselors, recruiters, and drill sergeants in all the services, looking for any criminal wrongdoing or unethical behavior.
It appears the Army took Secretary Hagel’s directive seriously, as it screened 20,000 soldiers, disqualified 588, and is moving to get rid of at least 79 soldiers in these sensitive posts for offenses that include sexual assault.
Between the Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps, however, only a handful of servicemembers were disqualified. The Navy, after screening more than 10,000 soldiers, first said it only disqualified five, but just yesterday, we learned that the number has skyrocketed as the Navy has actually disqualified 151 sailors from these positions of trust. The Air Force just revealed Tuesday it disqualified two soldiers after at first initially reporting none were disqualified, and the Marine Corps so far has disqualified absolutely no one.
We all know, without question, that sexual assault in the military is a crisis and that it is not simply limited to the Army. It appears to be quite clear that the services used widely divergent methodology in assessing the suitability for these servicemembers and that the different services interpreted Hagel’s directive very differently. It is my understanding that one of the service’s interpreted Hagel’s directive so narrowly that it simply checked the civilian sexual predator registry. Hagel has, apparently, discussed with top brass in the Navy, Air Force, and Marine Corps the 588 disqualifications in the Army and whether the other services will pursue a follow-up review. He has reportedly stopped short, however, of issuing another directive.
I believe Secretary Hagel should issue a directive to rescreen the officers in the other services, and I sent him a letter Tuesday urging him to do so because choosing the wrong people for these positions of trust is a betrayal for our troops. The numbers of those disqualified, by the way, were not voluntarily made public. They continue almost weekly to be unearthed by an enterprising reporter at USA Today. The DOD also hasn’t revealed what actions it has taken against those who were disqualified. The public has a right to know.
I do salute the Army for scrubbing what has been a cancerous culture, evidenced by the pending court-martial of Sergeant Gregory McQueen, whose job it was to help prevent sexual assault but who, instead, was allegedly running a prostitution ring at Fort Hood.
Until the Marine Corps, Air Force, and Navy follow the Army’s path, however, I have little faith that the Department of Defense is capable of stamping out military sexual assault by weeding out sexual predators and other criminals in these highly important positions of trust.”, said Rep. Speier (Source: Congressional Record http://thomas.loc.gov/).
We contacted an official representative of the United States Marine Corp at the Pentagon who refused comment in this matter of the situation in Seattle when the recruiter tried to have sex with at 17 year old Catholic school girl. He also requested we not use his name in this report – then hung up the phone on us.