Thursday, February 2, 2012

Color Blind Justice.

Color Blind Justice.

Air Force Academy Cadets Evenson, Claxton, and Cressy.

The Air Force Academy announced on January 5 that three male cadets had been charged with sex crimes stemming from unrelated incidents between February 2010 and May 2011. Academy officials said the three cases were announced together because the investigations happened to end at about the same time.

Cadet Robert M. Evenson Jr. is charged with rape. Evenson, for his part, allegedly masturbated over a cadet and ejaculated on her stomach while holding her down sometime during the month of November 2010. Between March and July of that year, he's also suspected of forcing sex "using power or strength or restraint to her person sufficient that she could not avoid or escape the sexual conduct." In addition, in February 2010, the Charge Sheet contends that he helped a cadet in an Honor case "in return for a dating relationship and sexual favors, requiring her to violate her probation in return for helping her, and threatening to harm her military career if she did not comply."

Cadet Stephan H. Claxton is charged with abusive sexual assault. Claxton is charged with illicit acts in March and November of last year. In the first, he's said to have placed a cadets 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.

Cadet Kyle A. Cressy is charged with aggravated assault. The 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."

Evenson and Claxton face other, non-sex-related counts.

The sexual assault charges against the Air Force Cadets are serious but they are not worthy of a Court-martial. Only Cadet Robert M. Evenson, Junior deserves stronger discipline. He abused his position as an Honor Code enforcer to obtain sexual favors. He should receive a Special Court-martial, not a General Court-martial. He should be held to a higher standard of conduct because he was in a position of trust. He abused that trust by taking advantage of a younger and less mature female cadet. Article 15, Non-judicial punishment, would be the appropriate forum to dispose of all the other charges. These few incidents of bad behavior should not become the most significant factors in determining their futures. Courts-martial should be reserved for terrorists and mass murderers. To bring out the big guns for such minor offenses would be a bad lesson in judgement to teach all the other cadets in the Academy.

It is not clear how many cases the Air Force Academy could have prosecuted; but, at least, they did not simply try to paint the crime with a black face.

Rep. Jackie Speier, a California Democrat, said in an interview the day of Panetta's announcement that the military culture has "run amok" and the rules for handling sexual abuse need an overhaul. She has introduced a bill that would create a separate system within the military to investigate and prosecute sex crimes.

Currently, a victim's commander might be part of the decision-making process. That creates a conflict of interest; the commander could suffer career damage if a subordinate is victimized; the commander could be a friend of the suspect; or the commander could be the suspect, Speier said.

"We've got to do something fairly dramatic to get the academies back on track and the military back on track," she said.

"How do you measure prevention?", asked Teresa Beasley, the Air Force Academy's sexual assault coordinator.

Are these cadets simply a reflection of the same social dating forces at play in American society at large? It isn't clear whether the disturbing news means sexual predation is on the rise at the Military academies. It could simply reflect the better efforts to encourage cadets to report any kind of unwanted sexual contact.

The Air Force Academy's sex assault prevention campaign starts before freshman studies begin. Among other things, cadets are told the Department of Defense definition of sexual assault includes "intentional sexual contact ... when the victim does not or cannot consent."

The breadth of the definition comes as a surprise to some.

"When they come in at basic, you see the 'deer-in-the-headlight' look — 'Wow, I didn't realize I'd been assaulted,'" said Teresa Beasley.

Coast Guard Academy Cadet Webster Smith.

The Coast Guard had more than 10 cases of rape or sexual assault prior yo 2005. All of the sexual predators were white. None were prosecuted. Then, along came Webster Smith. He was African American and several women accused him of sexual assault. The Coast Guard Academy spared no effort or expense in prosecuting him in 2006. There was an attempt to make Webster Smith the poster child of sexual assault at the Coast Guard academy. It did not work.

In the book CONDUCT UNBECOMING an Officer and Lady I paint an accurate picture of the Coast Guard Academy sexual predator based on actual eye witness interviews.

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