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Sexual Abuse Amongst Military Recruiters On The Rise

Pentagon to Monitor Recruiters

Associated Press | August 29, 2006

SAN JOSE, California - The Defense Department has announced it will closely monitor military recruiters and their commanders in light of two investigations - one by the government, the other by The Associated Press - that found increased levels of recruiter misconduct.

"Through this monitoring we are going to evaluate a command's ability to control, or eliminate, misconduct by military recruiters as well as the actions taken by commands towards those recruiters found to have violated the code of conduct with potential recruits ," said Defense Department spokesman Maj. Sean Upton.

Upton said the monitoring will last five to 10 months and that once the Defense Department has enough data and can confirm its integrity, officials will consider changes in policy.

Last week the AP reported that one out of 200 frontline military recruiters - the ones who deal directly with young people - were disciplined for sexual misconduct in 2005. The cases ranged from fraternization to forcible rape.

Earlier, the Government Accountability Office released a report that showed overall wrongdoing by military recruiters increased from just over 400 cases in 2004 to 630 cases in 2005.

Reaction was swift - at the Pentagon, on Capital Hill and in some small towns where the story resonated with victims.

"The high rate of sexual misconduct by military recruiters confirms what students and parents have been saying for years military recruiters should not be given unlimited access to high school and college campuses," said Rep. Pete Stark, a California Democrat.

Stark said the Pentagon's monitoring proposal doesn't go far enough.

"After three GAO reports and an AP investigation into widespread violations, the military should take concrete action to prevent sexual misconduct, not merely bean-count violations."

Several members of the House Armed Services Committee, including the ranking Democrat Rep. Ike Skelton, have called for a new policy that would restrict recruiters from being alone with young women and tougher penalties on those who break the rules.

Several advocacy groups said the crux of the problem is that recruiters are allowed to be alone with the prospective enlistees in closed-door meetings, government cars and elsewhere.

Olga Vives, executive vice president of the National Organization for Women, said she was appalled by the reports. She called for the Defense Department to make significant changes.

Elaine Donnelly, president of the Center for Military Readiness, a group that studies military policies, said consensual but exploitive sex with young women must be discouraged "with firmly enforced rules against military recruiters being alone with civilian girls."