Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri is asking Fort Leonard Wood officials to respond to testimony during a court-martial this week that superiors discouraged trainees from reporting sexual misconduct allegations
Associated Press – Sep. 26, 2014
Democratic Sen. Claire McCaskill of Missouri is asking Fort Leonard Wood officials to respond to testimony during a court-martial this week that superiors discouraged trainees from reporting sexual misconduct allegations.
The testimony came during the court-martial of Staff Sgt. Angel M. Sanchez, 30, a former drill sergeant who was convicted Wednesday of sexually assaulting and harassing several female soldiers.
One solider testified during the trial that an Army military police command sergeant major told a company of trainees not to report sexual misconduct allegations or their class wouldn’t graduate. Another soldier testified that a lieutenant colonel made a similar comment. The testimony was not pursued or expanded upon during the trial, The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported.
McCaskill’s office said Thursday it contacted Fort Leonard Wood about the testimony.
“Claire believes that anyone who discourages reporting should lose their job. Period,” spokesman John LaBombard said in an email to the newspaper.
Fort officials did not immediately respond to a request for comment Friday from The Associated Press.
When asked about the testimony, Republican U.S. Sen. Roy Blunt from Missouri said in a prepared statement : “I’m fighting, along with Senator McCaskill and other colleagues, to help protect all Americans from sexual assault, and give military and law enforcement officials the tools they need to hold perpetrators accountable for these violent crimes.”
A victims rights group, Protect our Defenders, on Thursday said it wants the Department of Defense to investigate the accuracy of the testimony.
“The idea that a lieutenant colonel and sergeant major could order large numbers of troops not to report sexual offenses is outrageous,” Nancy Parrish, president of Protect Our Defenders, said in a written statement. “If true it makes a mockery of the Pentagon’s supposed efforts to change the climate and culture.”