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DA: Army National Guard Recruiter accused of rape will face three trials

FORT EDWARD, N.Y. – Robert Haas was once a well-respected Army National Guard Recruiter but now authorities say the man used his position to gain the trust of women and then take advantage of them.

Haas, 36, is accused of raping two women in Washington County and strangling a third. He is facing three separate trials: two in Washington County and one in Warren County. Authorities say there could be more victims.

Haas was arrested in April. Authorities said Haas met his victims through his position as a military recruiter as well as through various dating websites.

Washington County District Attorney Tony Jordan said one of the victims didn’t even know she was sexually assaulted. He said Haas drugged her. Jordan said they found a video of Haas’ raping the victim. That video was recovered along with thousands of photos.

original article

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MRCC was created to help survivors both outside and inside the organization. After careful evaluation we have dismissed a member of our organization due to statements and actions directed towards survivors that we deem to be harmful and counterproductive to our mission statement.

Any questions or concerns you may contact Panayiota@stopmilitaryrape.org

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Midshipman facing sexual assault charges wants superintendent removed from case

One of two midshipman facing court-martial in the alleged sexual assault of a classmate asked a federal judge Wednesday to remove the U.S. Naval Academy’s superintendent from the case, saying he is biased against the defendants.

Joshua Tate, 21, of Nashville, filed a motion in federal court in Baltimore asking U.S. District Court Judge Ellen Hollander to take the case away from Vice Adm. Michael Miller, the academy’s superintendent. It is the second time Hollander has been asked to intervene in the case.

Miller last week referred Tate and Eric Graham, 21, of Eight Mile, Ala., to face court-martial over the recommendation of a military judge who presided over a preliminary proceeding known as an Article 32 hearing.

Tate is charged with sexual assault, and Graham is charged with abusive sexual contact. Both are also charged with making false statements. They face the possibility of imprisonment and expulsion from the academy.

full story

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House Passes Two Speier Amendments on Military Sexual Assault in Defense Appropriations Act

WASHINGTON, D.C. – The House today passed two amendments offered by Congresswoman Jackie Speier (D-San Francisco/San Mateo) in the Department of Defense Appropriations Act (HR 2397), both related to the handling of sexual assault cases. The amendments address the pervasive misuse of ‘personality and adjustment disorder’ as a diagnosis of victims of sexual assault and provide additional funding to train investigators of sexual assault crimes. For the first time, the Department of Defense will identify and correct cases where a service member reported a case of sexual abuse only to be wrongly diagnosed with a personality disorder and discharged.

“This is an encouraging show of bi-partisan agreement,” says Speier. “Mental health diagnoses are rampantly misused to administratively discharge or retaliate against survivors of sexual assault. These dismissals are like scarlet letters, pinned where medals should be. They affect survivors’ lives, their ability to find employment, and to collect benefits. My amendment directs the military to right this wrong.”

“This is a huge step forward for the hundreds of survivors who have contacted us that were wrongly discharged after reporting,” says Nancy Parrish, President of Protect Our Defender. “Many have suffered the pain of a terrible act only to be further humiliated by being dismissed as the source of the problem.”

Misuse of ‘Personality Disorder’ Diagnosis
This amendment provides $65 million to the Department of Defense to review thousands of victims who were potentially discharged wrongfully because of an improper personality or adjustment disorder diagnosis. The amendment directs the Secretary of Defense to correct records of service for those wrongly discharged and provide them with compensation and services they weren’t eligible to receive as a consequence of this error.
Since 2001, the military has discharged more than 31,000 service members on the grounds of personality disorders.

Investigator Training
This amendment provides an additional $10 million to train investigators on how to properly investigate sexual assault related offenses.

“As any prosecutor or legal expert will tell you, when you have problems with the investigation of a case, you aren’t going to get a fair and accurate decision,” says Speier. “Ensuring that assaults are investigated properly is the first step for holding perpetrators accountable. Criminal investigators want and need more training on conducting sexual assault investigations.”

The Department of Defense released a report by the Inspector General last week outlining failures in the handling of sexual assault cases. Out of 501 investigations, all but 83 had “deficiencies.” Overall, 399 of these cases had interview and post-interview deficiencies. Weaknesses were found in the interview process, collecting evidence, not developing leads, and photographing the scene.

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House Gives Whistle-Blower Protection to Military Sexual Assault Victims

WASHINGTON (AP) – The House has approved a bill extending whistle-blower protection to members of the military who are victims of sexual assault.

The vote Thursday was 423-0 for the measure sponsored by Republican Rep. Jackie Walorski of Indiana. The bill would require the inspector general to investigate allegations of retaliation against a service member who reports a rape or sexual assault. 

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Protest outside of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base

Join us in protest in Tucson, AZ on Thursday, April 25 at 4:30pm outside of Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (Intersection of S. Kolb Rd & E Irvington Rd), calling on Defense Secretary Chuck Hagel to remove Lt. Col. Wilkerson, a fighter pilot convicted of aggravated sexual assault from the United States Air Force.

more info: www.protectourdefenders.com

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Military Rape Crisis Center offers support group in Phoenix, AZ

The Military Rape Crisis Center is going to start offering a women support groups for survivors of Military Sexual Trauma in Phoenix, AZ. The first group meets on April 27th in downtown Phoenix.

All female Veterans, Active Duty, Reserves and Guard members are  welcomed to sign up and join us. We have just a couple of spots left so sign up today!

The group is free to attend but you must sign up. If interested please call Carina at 602-910-5822 or Panayiota at 802-578-4769 or email us at at info@stopmilitaryrape.org.
Support groups are also available in Cambridge and Springfield, MA and New London, CT.
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Jennifer Norris testifies before the House Armed Service Committee regarding the abuse at Lackland Air Force Base.

Jennifer Norris, a staff member for the Military Rape Crisis Center, testified today before the House Armed Service Committee regarding the abuse at Lackland Air Force Base.

Witnesses include: Gen. Mark A. Welsh III,  U.S. Air Force chief of staff; Gen. Edward A. Rice Jr., commander of U.S. Air Force Air Education and Training Command; David Lisak, forensic consultant; Retired Air Force Chief Master Sgt. Cindy McNally and TSgt Jennifer Norris.

Watch the testimonies here.

Read My Duty to Speak testimonies from Air Force rape survivors here.

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THIS IS YOUR CHANCE TO BE HEARD

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights will be holding a briefing concerning Military Sexual Trauma on Jan. 11, 2013 at 9:30 AM. Active duty and former service members, particularly those who have been victims of sexual assault are encouraged to submit written comments. These public comments may be submitted until COB Monday, February 11, 2013 and may be sent by any of three ways:

1) by mail to 1331 Pennsylvania Ave, NW, Suite 1150, Washington, D.C., 20425,
2) emailed to publiccomments@usccr.gov, or
3) faxed to (202) 376-1163

for further information or questions contact Panayiota Bertzikis, Executive Director, Military Rape Crisis Center at panayiota@stopmilitaryrape.org

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Senate Passes Boxer Amendment to Keep Sex Offenders Out of the Military

Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senator Barbara Boxer (D-CA) today issued the following statement after the Senate unanimously passed her amendment banning anyone convicted of a felony sexual assault from joining our armed forces. The policy was put in place administratively by Defense Secretary Robert Gates in 2009, but Senator Boxer’s amendment would codify the ban into law, making the change permanent.

“We owe it to our brave service members to do everything we can to protect them from sexual assault,”Senator Boxer said. “The Senate’s action today will strengthen the military’s zero tolerance policy for these heinous acts of violence by permanently banning those convicted of felony sexual assault from serving in our military.”

In 2011 alone, 3,192 incidents of sexual assault were reported in the military. According to the Department of Defense, this figure may significantly underestimate the actual number of sexual assaults and the actual number may be closer to 19,000 annually.

In addition, service members who receive a conduct waiver—including a sexual assault waiver—are more likely to commit a sexual assault. According to a report recently published by the Army, soldiers that entered the military with conduct waivers were more likely to commit a felony sex crime while on active duty than soldiers who entered the military without waivers.