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Sexual Assault and Military Justice

by David French

The political undermining of due process

The sexual-assault report came just after noon, right before a critical mission deep into the heart of al-Qaeda-controlled territory. A young soldier, a specialist, informed his first sergeant (the senior noncommissioned officer in his troop) that a sergeant first class had exposed himself, grabbed the young soldier, and demanded that he perform oral sex. The soldier claimed he twisted out of the grip of the sergeant first class, ran out of the room, and then proceeded straight to the first sergeant.

Despite the high tempo of combat operations, the command immediately launched a comprehensive investigation. There were no witnesses besides the two soldiers allegedly involved, and the sergeant first class tearfully denied any wrongdoing. He had a wife and kids, he said. Why would he assault another man? The guys thought he was gay, and he was tired of the rumors.

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