News Release

Military Sexual Assault Against Female Soldiers: Class Action Lawsuit Filed

AP is reporting today that a group of “17 current and former soldiers filed a federal class action lawsuit accusing the Pentagon” of failing to respond to a pattern of sexual abuse and harassment.

HELEN BENEDICT
Author of The Lonely Soldier: The Private War of Women Serving in Iraq, Benedict said today: “I’ve interviewed over 40 women who served in Iraq, many of whom told me stories of sexual harassment and rape at the hands of their so-called brothers-in-arms. These women’s stories inspired lawyer Susan Burke to put together the class action against the Pentagon being reported today, which in turn has encouraged dozens of other women to speak out. The women I talked to came from all areas of the country, were of different ranks and ages, and different ethnic and socio-economic backgrounds. Most were assaulted by their superior officers, men who had control over when they slept, ate, walked, sat, where they worked and what jobs they did. Often, when they tried to report their assaults, the command ignored them or threatened them with punishments to keep them quiet. Even the DoD admits that, for these reasons, 80 to 90 percent of assaults are never reported at all.

“Some stories:

* Marti Ribeiro of the Air Force was raped by an American soldier while she was standing guard at night in Afghanistan. When she tried to report it, she was threatened with court martial.

* Mickiela Montoya, army specialist, had to carry a knife with her at all times in Iraq because she was threatened with rape so often by the male soldiers.

* Abbie Picket, army specialist, was assaulted by an officer whom she was supposed to obey and trust.

* Jennifer Spranger, army specialist, was harassed so continuously by fellow soldiers, both during training and at war, that she came home shaking and traumatized.

* Suzanne Swift was court martialed and sent to military prison for a month after she refused to redeploy with a sergeant who had repeatedly raped her.”

Benedict wrote the piece “The Scandal of Military Rape” for Ms. Magazine.

For more information, contact at the Institute for Public Accuracy:
Sam Husseini, (202) 347-0020,; or David Zupan, (541) 484-9167