, Salem, MA


January 12, 2013

Military assault scandal prompts hearings

HOUSTON — About 4 percent of female service members experience some form of sexual assault each year compared to 1 percent of male service members, according to information gathered for a report discussed yesterday by the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights.

In fiscal year 2011, the Armed Services completed 2,353 investigations of reported sexual assaults, a “small fraction” of the total estimated sexual assaults, according to the report, which is still being compiled.

Of those cases investigated, fewer than a quarter, or about 489, were referred to court-martial, according to the report, and for those convicted of sexual assault, 78 percent served time in prison.

As part of their work, the commission also gathered testimony yesterday amid a widening sex scandal at a Central Texas Air Force base that has prompted congressional hearings later this month.

Philip D. Cave, a Washington-based military lawyer and retired Navy commander, testified that he’s seen military sexual assault cases where commanders have refused to assist the defense because they feared they would be punished.

“You lead to this lack of trust in the system,” Cave said.

Nancy Parrish, president of the Burlingame, Calif.-based victim advocacy group Protect Our Defenders, told the panel that between 2010 and 2011, commander-initiated action on sexual assault decreased by 23 percent.

“Victims will tell you there has been command influence, undue command influence when they come forward to report,” Parrish said. “They, the victims, are investigated. They are put in psych wards, on psychotropic drugs and investigated other than for the sexual assault.”

Parrish called for an audit, noting that sexual assaults are believed to far exceed official reports.

“That’s why we’re here today, because unpunished sexual assault in the military is an epidemic,” she said.

Maj. Gen. Gary Patton, director of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, testified that military officials are attempting to address the problem, but that the recently reported numbers of sexual assaults were “unacceptable.”

Text Only | Photo Reprints

Local News
  • Superior officers still without a contract

    BEVERLY -- Contract negotiations between the city and the Beverly Police Superior Officers Association remain at an impasse nearly three years after their last agreement expired. The two sides have met with a mediator several times, including last Fr

    April 18, 2014

  • Lederman decides against vying for school board seat

    MARBLEHEAD -- Controversial former school board member Jonathan Lederman has decided to abandon his quest to regain a seat on the committee. "I was -- for the record -- a reluctant candidate," he said. But he feels that on the heels of announcing hi

    April 18, 2014

  • Danvers won't have farmers market this year

    DANVERS -- The Rotary Club has withdrawn its proposal to open a farmers market downtown, saying the idea needs more time to take root. Instead, they hope to return to selectmen next year with a more comprehensive plan. "It wasn't an easy decision by

    April 18, 2014

  • North Shore residents to run in 2014 Boston Marathon

    The Salem News asked those on the North Shore who are running this year's Boston Marathon to share their reasons for running. 

    If you're running the marathon this year, it's not too late to share why you're running. Send a brief paragraph, a photo of yourself and a link to your fundraising site (if applicable) to Cheryl Richardson at

    April 17, 2014

  • chesskid Brace yourself, 'Salem' is now a TV show SALEM -- Ready or not, here comes "Salem." On Sunday night at 10, WGN American will debut its new series about the Salem Witch Trials, an attempt by a largely regional cable station to grab a national audience. The show has been much ballyhooed as th

    April 18, 2014 3 Photos