May 30, 2018
The surrender of Harvey Weinstein to authorities in New York City following the filing of sexual assault and rape charges against him keeps the spotlight on what his defense attorney is reported to have characterized as “bad behavior” in the entertainment industry. Sadly, it is not only the entertainment industry that has been accused of bad behavior. Revelations of sexual harassment and sexual misconduct in the workplace have become almost daily stories in the media with politicians, corporate executives, and others being accused of “bad behavior” by their victims. One group of victims that is rarely, if ever, heard from with allegations of sexual misconduct is members of the military.
Sexual assault and harassment in the military
Each branch of the military services has a clearly defined policy against behaviors constituting sexual harassment, sexual assault or sexual misconduct. For example, the U.S. Army not only specifies the types of conduct that is prohibited, but it also reminds personnel that the prohibition applies 24 hours a day, wherever they happen to be and regardless of whether or not they are on duty.
However, it was not until after the Me Too movement picked up momentum in this country that the military branches reported an increase in the number of complaints of sexual misconduct. The 6,769 incidents in 2017 represent a 10 percent increase in the number of incidents reported in the prior fiscal year. The Department of Defense press release showed the latest figures represent a larger proportion of military members reporting sexual assaults. While only 1 in 14 members of the armed services filed reports in 2006, 1 in 3 filed reports in 2017.
The military needs to do more
Along with news reports of increases in reporting of sexual assaults in the military, stories continue to come out indicating the need for improvement in a system where reporting can still lead to retaliation. Two civilians working for the U.S. Marine Corps went public earlier this year with their complaints about not being taken seriously when they reported being victims of sexual harassment in 2013 by a Marine officer who was their supervisor. An investigation concluded the allegations were unsubstantiated.
The story of a Marine who was the victim of sexual misconduct by a superior demonstrates the internal conflict victims of sexual harassment in the workplace grapple with in both the military and in civilian life. The female Marine was in an elite training unit in which trainees were under consideration for the highest possible security clearance. The top-secret clearance would be a requirement for the job they were training to perform.
The victim did not make a formal complaint against her attacker for fear it could affect her ability to achieve the security clearance she needed. She did not seek mental health counseling for fear it would become part of her personal record and raise “red flags” during her security clearance investigation. Although the data does not support her concerns about red flags, her fear of reprisals and retaliation nonetheless kept her from reporting the incident.
Attorneys providing a voice for victims of sexual harassment
Victims of sexual abuse and sexual harassment frequently need a voice to fight for them. At The Cifarelli Law Firm, LLP, their attorneys have been aggressively pursuing claims for compensation on behalf of the victims of sexual abuse, harassment and sexual misconduct for more than 25 years. Their practice focuses on personal injury and obtaining maximum compensation for the victims of sexual misconduct and sexual harassment. Its attorneys have an unsurpassed record of success. Contact them today by calling (949) 502-8600 or use the form on our website to schedule a free and confidential consultation.