Trending
MOST READ
Chris Pérez, Selena’s Husband, Faces His Past and Looks Forward, Musically

Chris Pérez, Selena’s Husband, Faces His Past and Looks Forward, Musically

Music: Chris Pérez never saw it coming. “All I ever wanted to do was play guitar,” he told the Current. “I never thought I’d be the subject of an interview... By Enrique Lopetegui 8/28/2013
‘Walking the Camino’ Explores a Treacherous Trek Through Spain

‘Walking the Camino’ Explores a Treacherous Trek Through Spain

Screens: In the Middle Ages, pilgrims walked the 500-mile El Camino de Santiago de Compostela as a pilgrimage to the tomb of Apostle St. James. It was an... By Stephen James Ross 10/22/2014
Chris Perez, husband of slain Tejana icon Selena, tells of romance, suffering

Chris Perez, husband of slain Tejana icon Selena, tells of romance, suffering

Arts & Culture: In one of the final chapters of his book To Selena, With Love (out March 6), Selena's widower Chris Perez mentions that Abraham Quintanilla, his former father-in-law, once... By Enrique Lopetegui 3/7/2012
A Closer Look: The ins and outs of a few important races

A Closer Look: The ins and outs of a few important races

News: For more than a year now gubernatorial candidates Wendy Davis and Greg Abbott have dominated airwaves and secured way... By Mark Reagan 10/22/2014
Failure Is Not an Option: George Lopez returns to SA

Failure Is Not an Option: George Lopez returns to SA

Arts & Culture: It is evident comedian George Lopez is still a little sensitive about the on-again, off-again relationship he’s had with television. Whatever the... By Kiko Martínez 10/22/2014
Calendar

Search hundreds of restaurants in our database.

Search hundreds of clubs in our database.

Follow us on Instagram @sacurrent

Print Email

Newsmonger

Newsmonger: Congress will hold Lackland hearings

Photo: , License: N/A


The House Armed Services Committee announced last week it will hold hearings on the sex abuse scandal that has continued to widen at Joint Base San Antoinio-Lackland over the past year, following the committee chairman's much-criticized visit to the base just three days prior. HASC Chairman Howard "Buck" McKeon angered advocates when, after his surprise three-hour Lackland visit on September 9, he characterized Lackland's growing scandal as "a few people who go beyond the bounds of propriety and misuse the authority they've been given." McKeon insisted he had confidence the Air Force was effectively cleaning up at Lackland, where to date 17 military training instructors have been charged or investigated for crimes ranging from aggravated sexual assault to improper sexual relationships with trainees. The official victim-count from the Air Force shrunk last week from 43 female trainees to 39.

For months members of congress and victims of military sexual assault had called for McKeon and the HASC to hold open congressional hearings to root out just what had led to the assaults at Lackland and, more broadly, sexual assault in the whole armed forces. By Wednesday last week McKeon and the HASC had changed tone.

Claude Chafin, HASC spokesman, told the Current in an email last week the full committee will hold a public hearing after prosecutions at Lackland have cleared. He wouldn't clarify on a timetable, or whether there's a plan for what specific items should be addressed during the hearing.

The Defense Department's own data suggests that Lackland is far from an isolated incident, rather the latest flare-up of what Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has called a "silent epidemic." Based on the Pentagon's most recent survey, 19,000 victims are sexually assaulted within the military each year – it's estimated only 14 percent of victims report the assault.

Nancy Parrish with the advocacy group Protect Our Defenders insists the military justice system has failed to keep the problem in check, describing a command climate that blames victims and fails to take reports of rape and sexual assault seriously.

Parrish points to data showing that of the 3,122 reports of rape and sexual assault within the military in fiscal year 2011, only 240 went to trial. Of the 191 service members convicted, 122 were dishonorably discharged or dismissed from the military, meaning the rest faced lesser punishments like fines and demotion.

"What we see is a military justice system so very weighted against the victim," Parrish said.

Parrish and other advocates also worry the trial of Staff Sgt. Kwinton Estacio last week sets an alarming precedent for other Lackland prosecutions down the road. Military Judge Lt. Col. Matthew Van Dalen acquitted Esctacio of the most serious charge against him, aggravated sexual assault, after the victim in the case, a young female Air Force recruit, failed to articulate a specific threat against her at trial.

Recently in News
We welcome user discussion on our site, under the following guidelines:

To comment you must first create a profile and sign-in with a verified DISQUS account or social network ID. Sign up here.

Comments in violation of the rules will be denied, and repeat violators will be banned. Please help police the community by flagging offensive comments for our moderators to review. By posting a comment, you agree to our full terms and conditions. Click here to read terms and conditions.
comments powered by Disqus