Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Conviction Sends Message, but Will Army Brass Listen? as First Aberdeen Trial Winds Up, Some Question Whether the Army Is Learning Its Lesson

Newspaper article The Christian Science Monitor

Conviction Sends Message, but Will Army Brass Listen? as First Aberdeen Trial Winds Up, Some Question Whether the Army Is Learning Its Lesson

Article excerpt

The US Army has sent a clear message that abuse of authority by men over women will not be tolerated at the Aberdeen Proving Ground in Maryland.

But what about alleged sexual abuse and rape at other US military bases around the world?

Analysts who have been following the trial of Staff Sgt. Delmar Simpson, who was convicted Tuesday on charges that he raped female trainees under his command, say it remains unclear whether the wider message of the Army's biggest sex scandal will hit home with military leaders and female soldiers. They say the Army's leadership must take steps to address systemic problems that led to rampant, illicit sexual relations at Aberdeen between trainees and their instructors. These analysts also say the Army must find a way to convince its female soldiers that they will not suffer professionally if they report sexual harassment, assaults, or rape by their superiors. "Leadership is the key in all this. Not only saying the words, but doing the things that tell the troops that {the command} takes this seriously," says Georgia Sadler, director of the Women in the Military Project at the Women's Research and Education Institute in Washington. "If there is a sense that the leadership doesn't care, then there are going to be big problems." Compared with the US Navy's coverup and lack of action during the Tailhook scandal in the early 1990s, the US Army's Aberdeen scandal has been handled relatively well, these analysts say. But it isn't over. At least two more cases of Aberdeen drill sergeants accused of rape are pending. Also, an investigation is under way into possible sexual harassment by the sergeant major of the Army - the Army's top enlisted man. And there are nearly 500 criminal investigations pending of sexual misconduct and assault allegations reported from bases around the world through a hot line initially set up for calls related to the Aberdeen case. Most recently, reports have surfaced of alleged sexual harassment of women at Army recruiting offices. Not all observers are applauding Simpson's rape convictions at Aberdeen. Some opponents of women serving in the military point to the case as evidence of a basic incompatibility of men and women serving together as soldiers. …

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