Most young people join the Army for the opportunities: job training, money for college, or even a long-term career in the military.
Doubtless, few of them expect to be pimped out by their superior officers, but that is exactly the type of “opportunity” that has presented itself for a number of young female soldiers based out of Fort Hood, Texas.
A number of female Army privates at Fort Hood military base in Texas were allegedly pressured to prostitute themselves to superior officers, with the senior-most officer being the one in charge of sexual assault prevention for the unit.
The news originated in the court-martial trial of Master Sergeant Brag Grimes, who, after a two day trial, was found guilty of conspiring to patronize a prostitute and solicitation to commit adultery. He will receive a letter of reprimand and remain in the service, although he was demoted to sergeant first class.
Along with Sgt. 1st Class Gregory McQueen, a non-commissioned officer at Fort Hood, Grimes organized a prostitution ring that sought to convince young female recruits into having sex with the pair for money.
One private testified that McQueen was the main force behind the plan and that he made “abusive sexual contact” with her during an “interview” meant to determine if she could be in the ring, as quoted by the Austin American-Statesman.
McQueen remains on active duty and has not been charged largely because Grimes has refused to testify against him, a situation the New Republic blamed on “the buddy-buddy refusal to report on a predatory peer.” (source)
Sadly, this case is not unusual, aside from the fact that money changed hands. There is an epidemic of rape in the US military.
In 2011, Newsweek reported that a woman is more likely to be sexually assaulted by another soldier than she is to be killed in combat. Even worse is the fact that reporting the assault results in retaliation….but not against the rapist. Women who report rapes are victimized even further by the Good Ole Boy network of the military. An overwhelming 62% of women who reported their rapes faced retaliation and put their entire military career at risk. (source)
What’s worse is that if the crime makes it to an Article 32 hearing, the victim is allowed to be aggressively cross-examined, and in effect, she is put on trial. One US Naval Academy midshipman was on the stand for nearly a week after reporting her rape at the hands of 3 young men from the Academy.
For roughly 30 hours over several days, defense lawyers for three former United States Naval Academy football players grilled a female midshipman about her sexual habits. In a public hearing, they asked the woman, who has accused the three athletes of raping her, whether she wore a bra, how wide she opened her mouth during oral sex and whether she had apologized to another midshipman with whom she had intercourse “for being a ho.” (source)
The sexual assault problem is only getting worse. The Department of Defense reports that 2012 saw a 50% increase in complaints over previous years.
It appears the military cannot be trusted to dole out justice for these women. Some believe that these cases should be tried in civilian courts.
Numerous lawmakers have proposed solutions to the problem, with perhaps the most far-reaching proposal coming from New York Senator Kirsten Gillibrand. She has advocated taking the prosecution power from the military chain of command and giving it to civilian attorneys, a plan the military has actively lobbied against.
“It’s the peers who don’t blow the whistle who are the biggest problem in the whole culture,” said Lory Manning, a former Navy captain who is now the director of the Women’s Research and Education Institute.
“When you’re talking about a serial rapist, his friends – and I say he intentionally – generally know what’s going. It’s a huge issue in the military and it’s not much talked about, and nor are the peers held responsible for not informing the command.” (source)
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