Where the Personal becomes the Political at our whim...
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:: Tuesday, March 25, 2003 ::
More Air Force Bitching Will this story ever get any better? In other words, will anything ever change? I have absolutely no faith that it will. I think women will continue to be raped, and they will be punished even more severely for reporting it. I think they will eventually be on the receiving end of threats or ridicule from other cadets. From everything that has come out, it really is deeply embedded in the culture there. I'm very pissed off about this.
Ever since she says a fellow cadet raped her a year ago, in her freshman year at the academy, her dreams of flying F-16s, and her love of the Air Force, have crumbled.
At age 18, Mountjoy-Pepka was a first-year cadet at the academy, but even in that elite group, she was one of the very few in her class who had a private pilot's license. In November 2001, she was chosen as the year's first freshman to fly an Air Force plane, roaring above the academy's football stadium before a game.
Her downward spiral began a year ago when a senior cadet whom she knew slightly from the academy's Aero Club raped her in her dormitory room, she said. What she did not know then is that the same senior, DonCosta Seawell, once a star of the academy's boxing team, had been accused of sexually assaulting a civilian in California three months earlier, as well as another freshman cadet at the academy more than a year before that.
Quality cadet. Really. What the helll was he doing there?? Do we really accept assholes like this in our military academies? I don't think that every cadet is that bad, but I think it points to the fact that the problem is in the leadership of the school.
Thus began Mountjoy-Pepka's dizzying fall from grace. Struggling academically and athletically, emotionally devastated and, she says, harassed and hounded by the academy's leadership for minor disciplinary infractions, she finally quit last Christmas.
The academy did not discipline Seawell for his alleged on-campus assaults because academy officials said evidence was lacking.
Did they do a serious investigation? I find it odd that so many of these cases have evidence that is "lacking." I know that rape is a difficult crime to handle, but it's a little odd.
While Mountjoy-Pepka remains upset about the sexual assault, she is angriest about her treatment by the academy's majors, colonels and generals, who she says turned the tables on her after she reported the assault. She said some officers criticized her for acting affectionately with her cadet boyfriend, said she was "no lady" and suggested that her behavior was generally promiscuous.
"It's not a problem of a few bad cadets," said Mountjoy-Pepka, now 20. "It's a problem of a few bad generals."
Although academy officials expressed sympathy for her in conversations with her father, the academy did not press charges against Seawell, apparently for lack of evidence. Nor did they allow her to take a semester off, as the academy's own Physical Education Review Committee had recommended.
Her case is similar to that of MacKenzie Isackson, who told People magazine that Seawell sexually assaulted her in August 2000. In both cases, the women worried they would be stigmatized as troublemakers for reporting the incidents; and in both cases, academy officials suggested that they had been promiscuous.
And think about how many women don't report rapes.
UPDATE: Some changes ahead? Well, not as punishment. It's all part of a normal rotation. Obviously, what did you expect? We keep seeing over and over that the Air Force doesn't actually like to punish those that commit crimes.
:: Bitter 12:50 PM [+] ::