19 in Military File Suit Over Alleged Rapes

Lawsuit targets defense secretaries for 'ignoring' cases

By Neal Colgrass,  Newser Staff

Posted Sep 28, 2012 3:30 PM CDT | Updated Sep 28, 2012 3:54 PM CDT

(Newser) – Nineteen US military service members have filed suit over rapes they say were ignored by the military, the Daily Beast reports. Following a lawsuit in March by eight women—and the conviction of an Air Force instructor this summer—the new lawsuit targets past and present secretaries of defense for presiding over a system that allegedly violated the civil rights of sex assault victims. The main issue: allowing "a single officer to prevent a victim from accessing the military’s judicial system," says the lawsuit.

"The reality is that this officer may well be a sexual predator himself." Only yesterday, sex assault charges were filed against a brigadier general—"exactly the kind of person that was the intermediary between victims and the justice system," says Susan Burke, the lawyer who filed the lawsuit. "How many rape investigations did he pass on?" Two of the suit's plaintiffs have won convictions in civilian court, but say the military violated their civil rights by ignoring their cases.

Attorney Susan Burke, who filed a lawsuit for nineteen current and former US military service members over sexual assault accusations.
Attorney Susan Burke, who filed a lawsuit for nineteen current and former US military service members over sexual assault accusations.   (AP Photo/Lisa Poole)
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