Monday, August 13, 2007

CALL TO ACTION: Rape Victim Charged with Sexual Assault
CALL TO ACTION: Rabbi Victim Charged with Sexual Assault

From Blogger - Angry Grrl's Rants
On May 12, 2006, female airman Cassandra Hernandez of the US Air Force was drinking in a barracks room with three male airmen. She was attacked and raped. She fled the room, partially clothed, and reported her attack. She underwent a medical examination at a local hospital. In the weeks that followed, she was, at the very least, questioned by the lawyer for the defendants without her victim's advocate present. (This is directly in violation of the Uniform Code of Military Justice.) Soon after, she refused to testify against the men, citing mental exhaustion. She said in a recent letter to her state governor (Rick Perry of Texas) and her Congressional delegates, that she "felt no one was looking out for my interests."

Why did she write to Rick Perry and Co.? Because on September 24th, 2007, she is up for a court martial on one charge of underage drinking and one charge of gross indecency. The three airmen who allegedly raped her have been offered immunity to charges of sexual assault if they testify against her. If convicted, Airman Hernandez faces not expulsion from the Air Force and criminal reparations, but having her name added to the national registry of sex offenders.

All for the crime of being raped.

Here is where you can find contact information for your state representative, and here is where senatorial contact information lives.

I implore everyone to get in touch with their Congressmen and -women on this topic. apple-pi says you can copy and paste the letter she wrote. Here it is:

I am writing to draw your attention to the case of Cassandra Hernandez, a female Air Force airman, who, on the night of May 12th, 2006, was attacked and raped by three men in a barracks room. She fled the room and subsequently had a hospital examination performed. When she reported the attack, however, she was questioned by the lawyer for the defendant airmen without her victim's advocate present (in clear violation of the UCMJ), and soon after refused to testify against the men, citing mental exhaustion. In a letter to Gov. Rick Perry and her congressional delegates, she said, "I felt like no one was looking out for my interests." Airman Hernandez has now been charged with one count of underage drinking and one count of committing indecent acts. The three airmen who allegedly raped her have been offered immunity if they testify against her. Given the choice of being charged with rape, or being granted immunity and testifying against the victim, they chose immunity - not a big surprise, I hope you'll agree. Airman Hernandez's court martial is set for 24 September. I urge you in the strongest terms to address this issue and prevent a gross miscarriage of justice. Women in the armed forces face enough obstacles to achieving respect and success in their chosen field, without having their names added to the list of public sex offenders for the "crime" of being raped.
Female airman charged after refusing to testify in her rape case
The Associated Press
August 7, 2007

POPE AIR FORCE BASE, N.C. — A court-martial is scheduled next month for a female airman who said she was charged after refusing to testify against three male airmen she accused of rape.

The woman is charged with one count of committing indecent acts and one count of consuming alcohol as a minor, said base spokesman Ed Drohan. The men received nonjudicial punishments and were granted immunity for their testimony in the woman's trial, according to documents provided by the woman's military defense attorneys.

"The whole thing is a system failure," said Capt. Christopher A. Eason, one of the woman's lawyers. "This is unprecedented."

The military declined to identify the men or confirm whether they were ever charged because the case is pending, Drohan said. He said military rules prohibit further discussion of the case but said "the Air Force is not attempting to cover up any wrongdoing."

The Associated Press generally does not identify possible victims of sexual assault.

In letters dated June 7 to the congressional delegations and governors of North Carolina and Texas, her native state, the woman said she decided not to testify against the three men because she was "under enormous stress."

She said she was attacked in another airman's barracks room the night of May 12, 2006, and was partially clothed when she fled the room. She said she reported the incident and received a medical examination.

In her letter, she also said the three male airmen were charged with rape but the charges were dropped after she refused to testify. The woman said she was questioned by the men's defense lawyer without her victim's advocate present, which her lawyers said was a violation of military justice policy.

"The pressure of the judicial process was too much for me, and I felt like no one was looking out for my interests," the woman wrote.

The charges allege she performed an indecent act on one man while the other two were witnesses, defense lawyers said.

A court-martial has been scheduled for Sept. 24 at the air base adjacent to Fort Bragg, Drohan said, and it will be open to the public.

If convicted on both counts, the woman could face up to a year in jail, reduction in rank, a cut in pay in allowances, a possible bad conduct discharge and be required to register as a sex offender, her defense lawyers said.

Drohan said he didn't know the maximum sentence.

"This is the wrong message to send to women in the military," said Capt. Omar S. Ashmawy, one of her military defense attorneys.


Anonymous cholo/snapster said...

Thank you for posting this disturbing report. I will write to Sen. Diane Feinstein today!

yaqui nation

August 13, 2007 3:53 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

A woman gets raped and the people who did it are immuned if they testify against her? Wow! At least you keep three in the air force instead of one? If she is right three get bounced. If they say she is wrong only one gets bounced. What ever happened to a Polygraph test just to see who is lying or who could pass one?

August 17, 2007 11:29 AM  

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