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83 servicewomen reported being raped

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Group: 2 Sex Offenders Among U.S. Troops
By ROBERT GEHRKE

WASHINGTON (AP) - There are at least two serial sex offenders among the U.S. troops in the Middle East, an advocacy group has told the Pentagon.

The Miles Foundation, a support group for military sexual assault victims, said 83 servicewomen stationed in the Middle East have reported being raped or assaulted in the last 18 months.

In at least two cases, multiple victims reported having been attacked by the same soldier, said Christine Hansen, executive director of the Connecticut-based group.

The foundation said Friday it has reported the cases to commanders and formal reports have been filed.

Pentagon spokesmen said they were unaware of the group's complaint.

There have been 15 new cases brought to the foundation since Hansen testified before the Senate Armed Services Committee last week although most occurred before the testimony. Hansen said the majority of the victims are officers, leading advocates to believe that there are likely enlisted personnel who are not reporting attacks.

There are about 60,000 women deployed in the theater.

According to Defense Department figures, there have been 112 sexual assaults reported in the region, including 86 in the Army. Sixty of those who have contacted the Miles Foundation have not reported their attacks through official channels, Hansen said.

There have been an especially high number of attacks at Camp Udairi and Camp Spearhead, both in Kuwait, she said.

``Articulating a zero-tolerance policy is inadequate,'' said Hansen. ``Leaders from the commander-in-chief to the Secretary of Defense to unit commanders must make clear that violence against any woman, anywhere, of any nationality, age, race, rank or marital status will not be tolerated.''

Defense Secretary Donald Rumsfeld has asked for a department-wide review of policies and procedures for dealing with sexual assaults in the military setting. A report is expected by the beginning of May.

Hansen and William Schultz, executive director of Amnesty International, said the Pentagon should spend $10 million to create a department-wide system of victim advocates. They also said the Defense Department should enact uniform policies for handling assaults, leaving less discretion to officers who have allegedly swept crimes under the rug.

Last week, David Chu, undersecretary of defense for personnel, told senators that the department is considering adding to its network of services for victims. And he emphasized that the military will not tolerate sexual mistreatment of soldiers and that it will be treated as a crime.

Rumsfeld's inquiry was prompted by stories in The Denver Post that thousands of sex offenders in the military had escaped punishment. The reports documented accounts of numerous women who said they had been raped or sexually assaulted while in the military and who said military commanders were dismissive of the claims.


03/05/04 21:02

Copyright The Associated Press. All rights reserved. The information contained In this news report may not be published, broadcast or otherwise distributed without the prior written authority of The Associated Press.


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