USAREUR campaigns against sexual assault
HEIDELBERG, Germany — U.S. Army Europe will launch a campaign against sexual misconduct that adds several key measures to the command’s existing education and prevention programs, USAREUR’s top human resources officer said.
Much of the campaign focuses on making sure everyone from senior leaders and medical personnel to privates are aware of what to do when a sexual assault occurs.
“Our attempt is to make sure that we have the right policies and procedures in place that give everybody involved, including the victim and the [offender], the right avenues to get the information they need,” Brig. Gen. Russell Frutiger said.
The USAREUR campaign comes in the midst of a Pentagon review of the military’s handling of sexual assault cases. That review was prompted by a Denver Post series highlighting inadequacies in the military’s treatment of sexual assault victims.
Initial campaign material notes that sexual assault is the second most-reported felony in the Army in Europe, after drug-related offenses. It also said that 76 percent of sexual assaults occur in unlocked barracks or government quarters; 74 percent involve alcohol, 50 percent of rape victims know the offender and most sexual assaults occur between 1 and 5 a.m. on Saturdays.
In 2003, 92 sex crimes were reported in USAREUR, spokesman Michael Tolzmann said Friday. Of those reported cases, there were 36 rapes, 15 sodomy cases, 38 indecent assaults and three carnal knowledge cases.
Frutiger said the USAREUR campaign was prompted by the Pentagon review, as well as some concern about how the war in Iraq is affecting soldiers in the command.
Several USAREUR units have deployed to Iraq, including the Heidelberg, Germany-based V Corps and the 1st Armored Division from Wiesbaden, Germany. The Würzburg, Germany-based 1st Infantry Division is in Iraq now.
The Denver Post series found that some military sexual assault victims who returned from Iraq sought treatment at civilian rape crisis centers because the military did not offer the care they needed. Shortly after the Post series appeared, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld ordered the military’s review, which must be completed by May. The Pentagon review is focusing on how sexual assault victims are treated in combat zones.
However, Acting Army Secretary Les Brownlee last week sent a team from the Army inspector general’s office to examine the military’s sexual misconduct policies in Europe.
Frutiger said USAREUR already has determined that many sexual assault victims are too ashamed or afraid to come forward to report such a crime. Many who do come forward feel that the military does not follow through on their cases, he said.
Chaplain (Col.) Vernon Chandler, USAREUR’s deputy chaplain, said soldiers have come to him to report sexual assaults, which generally can be done in confidentiality with a pastor.
Chandler said the 400 USAREUR chaplains and their assistants will get new training. A special unit on the subject will be added to the Ministry Team Leadership training conference in October, he said.
USAREUR’s existing sexual misconduct prevention program is given in briefings to soldiers during in processing and twice a year, Frutiger said.
Among other things, the new program expected to kick off this week includes:
• A victim’s advocate in every community where there is a medical treatment facility. That advocate is to stay with the victim through the crisis and recovery stages.• A legal liaison that helps shepherd the victim through any legal action that occurs as a result of the assault.• Unit contingency plans to react to a sexual misconduct incident that addresses both victim and offender issues.
The program is meant to treat USAREUR soldiers with the dignity and respect they deserve, Frutiger said.
“If it seems victim-centric, it is a bit,” he said.
Sexual assault in U.S. Army Europe
Suspects tend to be:
• E1-E4 (Private to specialist)• 17-31 years old• Married• Assigned to combat arms units
Victims tend to be:
• Family members (wife or daughter)• E-1-E-4• 17-31 years old• Married and the spouse is frequently deployed• Assigned/attached to support units
—Source: U.S. Army Europe