Two women filed suit in Manhattan federal court on Friday, claiming that they were raped while enrolled at two of the nation’s most prestigious military academies.
In their lawsuits, the women claim that the U.S. Military Academy in West Point, New York, and the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, ignored “rampant sexual harassment.”
The suit also claims that former Secretary of Defense Robert Gates, the former superintendents of the two academies and the current secretaries of the Army and Navy are “personally responsible” for failing to “prevent rapes and sexual assaults at the Naval Academy and West Point.”
These lawsuits are merely days after Defense Secretary Leon Panetta announced that the military would actually start punishing sexual assault as opposed to continuously covering it up. All branches of the military supposedly have a “zero tolerance” policy when it comes to sexual assault. Yet the Defense Department estimates that, even with as many as 3,192 cases of sexual assault last year, 86 percent of the incidents were totally unreported.
One of the victims, 20-year-old Leah Marquet, described her short-lived, two-semester stint at the U.S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland, like being one “female entering into a giant fraternity.” An all-star student, and one of the best high school soccer players in the country, Marquet turned down scholarships to play soccer at Ivy League schools for a chance to join the Navy. “All of their graduates from the soccer team went on and became pilots and Marine officers. It just sounds like those women are so powerful and well-respected, and I wanted to be that woman.”
But unfortunately, Marquet would learn that, in order to become a member of a fraternity, you must first endure the hazing.
Both girls were forced to withdraw from their respective military academies, as this traumatic incident left both young girls depressed and suicidal. In addition to that, it was hard for both girls to look at their harasser every day.
In both incidents, and what seems to be the much wider, less talked-about norm, the upperclassmen use the military’s strong trust in leadership values, in order to get these unsuspecting girls drunk beyond control, and taken advantage of.
To make matters worse, there have been some reported incidents where these prestigious military academies have ordered the alleged victims to take out the trash of their alleged rapists for over a month!
Could it be that these prestigious military academies are relying on their reputation, ignoring these victims’ pleas, essentially cries for help, just so they will not tarnish their name?
In a strange, yet sobering twist of irony, the elite of the elite, the academies that help our nation’s army become the strongest in the world, undermines the very values and morals it is attempting to instill in its members. Is this justice?
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