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Sex crime charges out of Colorado Air Force Academy draw spotlight

The matter of sex crimes in the military has attracted attention up the chain of command all the way to Defense Secretary Leon Panetta. In Colorado, several recent reported sexual assaults at the Air Force Academy resulted in three cadets being charged with abusive sexual assault, aggravated sexual assault and rape. All suspects have criminal defense attorney protection to preserve their rights to innocence until proven guilty and to obtain a fair trial.

Secretary Panetta says there were almost 3,200 sexual assaults reported last year in all the military, but that the actual number runs much higher, closer to 19,000. Few victims are willing to make the report of a crime, and some do not even understand that they have experienced a sexual assault because it was never clearly defined. Sex crimes in the military are nothing new, but are greatly underreported, due to conflicts of interest, fear of retaliation and fear of making the report.

Nine years ago, a scandal at the Colorado school shocked the military. Since record-keeping began in 2003, the reports of sex crimes have jumped up and down annually, but numbers still are very low, from 33 last year to as few as 8 in previous years for the student population of about 4,600 students. Roughly 80 percent of Air Force Academy cadets are male.

For their part, the Pentagon has instituted new training programs for cadets and supervisors, and they have changed the way reports are handled to encourage trust. Supervisors no longer receive those reports, because there could be a conflict of interest or other problems due to their supervisory position. Anyone, cadet or civilian, suspected of a sex crime should have aggressive legal defense immediately.

When there are important developments in the Colorado sex crime cases, we will report an update.

Source

The Huffington Post: "No Simple Explanation In Air Force Academy Sex Crime Data," Dan Elliot, Jan. 22, 2012

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