Court to Decide if Military Rape Victims Can Sue Defense Dept. (Updated)
While military service is both an honor and a duty, and carries with it substantial risk to life and limb, the risk of sexual assault and abuse is one risk that no service member should fear. But with a third of all women and possibly a quarter of the men experiencing some type of sexual abuse, or trauma, it is clear that changes have to be made.~Catholic Online
This week, a landmark hearing will decide whether 28 women and men have a case against the military for alleged inaction on rape. If not, hundreds of plaintiffs are lining up for the next one. ~The Daily Beast
Noel Brinkerhoff – (AllGov) – November 17, 2011 – A federal judge (Judge Liam O’Grady) in Virginia is expected this week to rule whether 28 current and former military personnel can sue the Department of Defense for not taking action to curb rape in the armed services.
Filed against former defense secretaries Robert Gates and Donald Rumsfeld, the lawsuit contends that Pentagon leaders allowed the violation of soldiers’ constitutional rights by failing to curb sexual assaults.
The 28 plaintiffs consist of 25 women and three men, all of whom allege they were raped or sexually assaulted by fellow soldiers, and that the Defense Department failed to do anything after the attacks.
Pentagon attorneys have asked the judge to throw out the case on grounds that the agency cannot be sued thanks to the Feres Doctrine, which has given the Defense Department immunity from civil and criminal matters since the 1950.
There were 3,158 rapes reported last year to the Defense Department’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office. However, this number is much lower than the total, given that a Pentagon report in March estimated there were 19,000 sexual assaults in 2010.
Of the 19,000 only 20% were prosecuted, which is half the rate of the civilian justice system. (Click HERE for original article)
Sex assault class-action lawsuit still on hold
Patricia Kime – (ArmyTimes) – November 18, 2011 – Twenty-eight current and former service members who say they were sexually assaulted while in uniform must wait several weeks to learn whether their class-action lawsuit, filed against former Defense Secretaries Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates, will move forward.
A federal judge in Alexandria, Va., listened to arguments Nov. 18 from government defense lawyers, as well as plaintiffs’ attorney Susan Burke, on a motion to dismiss Cioca v. Rumsfeld, but made no ruling.
U.S. District Court Judge Liam O’Grady said he would issue a ruling on the motion to dismiss “as soon as we can.”