Sexual Harassment and the Military: Work Still Needs to be Done

Congress and the public have been promised, by the Pentagon, that there would be no tolerance for sexual harassment and assault. But the issue remains, with a case reported in September 2015. The case alleges that a colonel, married at the time, continued to tell her that he wanted to have sex with her.

The account was quickly confirmed by Air Force investigators that had documental proof, text message proof and even an admission by the colonel that he sent the victim masturbation recordings.

Ronald S. Jobo’s case looked grim, and this is a concern for all women that are planning to join the military. Extensive evidence that backed the woman’s claims were gathered by investigators. The woman, a civilian, had a solid case that would carry the requirement of Jobo registering as a sex offender and even spending up to seven years in prison.

Lt. Gen. John F. Thompson, a three-star general at an air force base 600 miles away, had the authority over the case. He decided against charging Jobo with any crime. Instead, he received nonjudicial punishment. The punishment is geared towards minor offenses.

The case was hidden from the public eye, and the colonel was demoted to lieutenant colonel and forced to retire. Military officials kept the case under wraps, meaning there was no public record, publicity or trial that took place.

Evidence proving the case has Congress up in arms because the 400-page case file and admittance by Jobo were more than enough to charge him. Sexual assault and harassment has been a key focus of The Pentagon since 2013.

“The #MeToo movement has spurred many women to re-evaluate whether to challenge or complain about past instances of sexual harassment in the workplace. I’ve talked to dozens of potential clients over the past month who have described horrible incidents of past abuse and harassment in the workplace, asking if they can now step forward and take legal action,” states Schaefer Halleen.

Sexual assault has reached an all-time high, with the Pentagon claiming 6,172 cases of sexual assault were reported in 2016. This figure was just 3,604 in 2012. Pentagon officials claim that the increase in reports is due to the trust victims have in the response and support systems available.

And if you are a victim of sexual harassment or assault, you may fear speaking up about the incident.

Victims state that their report resulted in reprisals or retaliation in 58% of cases. Males are also victims of sexual harassment, with 19% of cases involving males. While far less common than in a traditional workplace, the Department of Defense found that 0.6% of active-duty men and 4.3% of active-duty women have been victims of sexual assault in the prior year.

Military members have a right to be safe as well as civilians on military bases. When sexual harassment or assault occurs, the incident ought to be reported. Retaliation may occur, but as a collective, it’s important to report an offender and lower the risk of yourself or another person being assaulted.