Local News

Team Studying Sexual Assault Claims, Prevention Programs At Air Force Bases

Posted March 15, 2004

— The Air Force is taking a closer look at how it deals with rape. Monday, a new team is examining programs at Seymour Johnson Air Force Base.

The review comes on the heals of a study that found nearly 100 sexual assault allegations at Air Force installations in the Pacific and over 50 at the Air Force Academy. This past year, Seymour Johnson had six cases.

The newly-created Sexual Assault Response Team is visiting all Air Combat Control installation to review programs that help rape victims.

An Air Force study in the Pacific found flaws in the reporting and handling of sexual assault claims.

"We hope to identify things that can be used to prevent sexual assaults. Also, we are looking at resources for sexual assault victims," said Brig. Gen. Stephen Miller, of Seymour Johnson AFB.

Over the next day and a half, the six-member team will talk to more than 75 people involved in support services.

Unlike rape scandals at other Air Force installations, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base is not seeing a trend.

"One incident is too many. Six is a number that's relatively low, but still intolerable," said Brig. Gen. Eric Rosborg,of Seymour Johnson AFB.

Seymour Johnson is the fifth base the response team is visiting. Already, its members have found each installation is not the same. Some smaller installations do not have community support and more efforts need to be made to ensure assaults can be reported and investigated when airmen deploy.

Capt. Kelly Dunlow finds the inquiry encouraging.

"I'm sad to know these things do go on, but I'm happy to know we are taking action to make it better," she said.

The Air Force says its goal is to eliminate sexual assault and the climate that fosters it.

Two of the six cases at Seymour Johnson are pending and two cases ended up in court martial convictions. One airman was punished administratively and one case was unsubstantiated.

Pope Air Force Base will have a similar review by the team on Thursday.

The team will report its findings to Air Force leadership by April 9.

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