Flightlines

Air Force’s chief legal officer wants your feedback on sexual assault prevention

The Air Force’s chief legal officer wants to know what you think it will take to reduce sexual assault in the military.

General Counsel Charles A. Blanchard asks airmen and civilians alike for feedback on a blog post this week. Blanchard oversees Air Force lawyers around the world.

During his visit to Southwest Asia, Blanchard, front left, and his colleagues were conducting a tour throughout the area, seeking firsthand knowledge of legal issues the commands routinely address. August 20, 2012. (Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Sheila deVera)

The call-out comes just more than a week after the chief of the Air Force’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office was arrested for sexual battery in Arlington, Va. Lt. Col. Jeff Krusinski is accused of grabbing the breasts and buttocks of a woman he didn’t know outside a Crystal City restaurant not far from the Pentagon early May 5. He’ll stand trial in Arlington July 18.

Days after Krusinski’s arrest, the Defense Department released a new report that said sexual assaults are up in the military.

In his blog, Blanchard poses a series of questions: Since most sexual assaults go unreported, how does the military determine whether more reports are a good thing or a bad thing? In other words, are more victims coming forward or are there more assaults?

Should a new Air Force program that provides legal counsel to victims of sexual assault be expanded to the other services? Which prevention programs are working and which aren’t? Is alcohol the major factor it appears to be when it comes to the crime of sexual assault?

Blanchard also asks whether commanders ought to be involved in Uniform Code of Military Justice actions. Some lawmakers have argued that reporting of sexual assaults should be taken outside the chain of command. A growing number of Air Force leaders and members of Congress have expressed support for removing from commanders the authority to overturn convictions following a highly-contentious decision by the commander of the Third Air Forces to toss a sex assault conviction of a former Aviano Air Base, Italy, inspector general and F-16 pilot.

Finally, the chief legal officer asks: “What issues are those of us in the Beltway ignoring?”

You can find the blog post — and give your feedback to Blanchard – .

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Comments

  1. Rodger Dodger Says:
    May 15th, 2013 at 2:41 pm

    Last time I checked everyone has their panties in a bunch over a guy that at this point is only “accused” of doing something.

  2. Rodger Says:
    May 15th, 2013 at 10:50 pm

    I have a valid but unpopular suggestion. I suggest that we admit that the experiment of women in the military has failed. Let the men get back to doing their job.

  3. Capt Kitchen Says:
    May 17th, 2013 at 8:36 am

    Stop this kinder gentler AF crap! Hammer the offenders, make them a public example! The military and the AF in general is getting SOFT! The new generation on Airmen are expecting things to be given to them, it starts at BMT! Make it tougher, hammer the weakness out of them! This isn’t walmat.

  4. CMSgt Terry Williams (ret) Says:
    May 17th, 2013 at 12:53 pm

    I was in the military for 31 years as a Law Enforcement/Security Specialist and have worked three years as an Assistant Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Coordinator.
    The first thing that is wrong is that each service is trying to make this a service specific program. It is not, it is a DoD program and should be ran that way. One training program, one vision, one out come….Zero tolerance.
    Secondly, in order to make the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program a viable one, you have to eliminate the good ol boy philosophy and the Fliers philosophy. Too many times have I seen things swept under the rug, personnel disciplined for doing the right thing, and reprisal for those that spoke out. Yes, it still happens, it is going on now and will continue until the entire program is taken out from under the chain-of-command and placed where command influence cannot play a part in it.
    Lastly, all victims should have counsel (non-military), a victims advocate (non-military) and the case should be heard in federal court since bias against the victims seem to run rampant.

  5. John Riley Goldsmith Says:
    May 17th, 2013 at 8:12 pm

    If you want to get serious about sexual crimes in the military have the services prosecute only sexual crimes that occurred in a sister service. I remember a fraternization case where the officer was Navy and the enlisted person was a Marine. Each member’s service represented their member vigorously. Accused members could choose to be represented by a JAG from their service or a JAG from the service prosecuting and investigating them.

  6. Mike Says:
    May 18th, 2013 at 5:02 am

    Airmen today do not know how to function and interact with physical people. In the day of social media, teenagers are coming into the military not knowing how to deal with other human beings in the real world. They have hid in the cyber world for so long they do not know what it means to interact socially with the oposite sex. Single E-1 – E-4s need to be put into barracks. The idea of one person per room is expensive and only adds to the social isolation of our Airmen. Bring back open bay barracks or at least put more airmen per room. Assign CQ duties again and make the barracks gender specific.

  7. Pete Says:
    May 20th, 2013 at 10:36 am

    Chief Williams’ comments are spot on. I believe what he proposes would help find the truth when you have a “She said; he said” kind of case.

    This link takes you to the first part of a three part series.
    http://www.mysanantonio.com/twice-betrayed/ The series is comprehensive and well written.

    IMHO the current state of affairs is worse than “Tailhook” ever was. I believe that a proper investigation of the higher ups who participated in the administrative processing of complaints and those who were the subject of the complaints MUST be held accountable, even if it means recalling them to active duty. They Army has done this in the past and it resulted in reprimands, reduction in rank on the retired list, and even prosecution. ALL, not just those given to females, cases of discharge for “preexisting personality disorder” MUST be reviewed by COMPETENT MEDICAL authority, and if the evaluation leads to a service related condition, disability benefits awarded back to the date of the incident. The services are using this as an excuse to avoid paying benefits and this action denies medical treatment to the service members.

  8. Wildy Meme Says:
    May 25th, 2013 at 3:46 pm

    The military chiefs needs to be careful on how to properly handle sexual assault accusations. I think we need to distinguish between seaxual assaults in the military involving two service members and sexual assaults involving one service member and a civilian. We need to make that distinction becuase a few or a lot civilians are taking advantage of the politics regarding sexual assaults in the military to accuse service members and destroy ther careers. We need to think about the unlawful command influence from the service chiefs and other officials to include SECDEF. The Commanders are under pressure to deal with sexual assault cases because of politics. We all know what presumption of innocence AND due process mean. However, some commanders (under pressure) immediately find the personnel guilty of wrondoings without the any strong evidences because of fear and command influence. Both the victims and the accused have their rights. It is a matter of time for faslesy accused to present their cases to the Congresss.

  9. Pete Says:
    May 28th, 2013 at 5:48 pm

    Wildy Meme, you nailed it.

  10. John Riley Goldsmith Says:
    May 28th, 2013 at 11:15 pm

    Wildy Meme’s concern about political correctness is one reason why I proposed multi-service JAG involvement where it is only a matter of he said versus she said.

  11. Mike Says:
    June 1st, 2013 at 1:09 am

    I would also get rid of restricted reporting. In any criminal case, the accused has a right to confront the accuser. How fair is it that the accuser gets protected status but there is nothing for the accused. I fear the pendulum has swung totally in the opposite direction due to recent events involving sexual assaults. We now hear congress wants to take out the Command influence in these cases. So, if we do not like the rules because of one case we change them? It is only setting up a situation where the accused is not even going to get a fair trial. Lt Col Wilkerson’s case should never have made it out of the article 32 hearing. It was he said she said, no physical evidence and an accuser who, by were own friends account “had issues”. There have been cases in the civilian courts in which the judge has overturned a jury’s finding. Why is it when it happens in the military all of a sudden it’s a miscarriage of justice. In my opinion the system worked.

  12. Robin Says:
    June 6th, 2013 at 11:27 am

    Young men and women joining the military today lack the moral compass needed to avoid the “hook-up mentality” that Gen Welsh referred to and he is absolutely correct! It’s all over the media, movies, and television. I spent many years as a commander and never saw a true rape case. All the cases were more along the lines of “drunken regret” than “sexual assault”. Enforce phase programs and curfews, and where possible, limit alcohol consumption. Always stress personal respect for their bodies, their partners’ bodies and their reputations.

  13. John Riley Goldsmith Says:
    June 6th, 2013 at 1:08 pm

    Congress grilled the chiefs on sexual crimes in the military and some seemed to want to put the prosecution of such cases in civilian hands to be able to ensure a more politically correct result. To ensure that a just result is achieved without civilian intervention, if he Air Force accuses an airman of a sexual crime he should be defended by Army JAGs and vice versa. Likewise, if the Navy prosecutes a sailor for sexual crimes he should be defended by a Marine JAG and vice versa. Services defending an accused in another branch should allow their criminal investigators to do an independent investigation of the offense to be provided to the defense and the prosecutor if he provides the results of his investigation to the defense. Any convening authority action should be approved by the sister service who provided the defense attorney.

  14. Pete Says:
    June 9th, 2013 at 10:12 pm

    The appointment of Maj Gen Smith as the head of the AF Sexual Assault office is a great step in the right direction. I have the feeling that she is the right person for the job. There’s gonna be combat and she’s proven herself as a combat commander.