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DoD Orders Services to Review Sexual Harassment Training

By Master Sgt. Stephen Barrett, USA
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Nov. 14, 1996 – Defense Secretary William Perry ordered the Navy and Air Force to examine their service training programs for problems dealing in sexual harassment.

The order came Nov. 12 to Navy Secretary John H. Dalton and Air Force Secretary Sheila F. Widnall as the Army continues its investigation of sexual assaults at Aberdeen Proving Ground, Md.

 

Pentagon spokesman Ken Bacon told the Baltimore Sun that Perry ordered the training reviews to make sure there is "adequate screening of complaints, and there are adequate efforts to establish, to find out, if there are similar problems" in the Navy and the Air Force.

 

"We want to make sure the other services take precautionary looks at this," said Bacon. "We don't have any evidence that there are comparable problems in the other services."

 

Meanwhile, Army Gen. John M. Shalikashvili, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, said Army officials are "casting a wide net" into their investigations -- including posts beyond Aberdeen.

 

"We certainly have to assume that it could be happening somewhere else," said Shalikashvili on CBS's "This Morning." "But right now, I don't think we have yet all the evidence, or it's very difficuly to determine big the problem really is."

 

Three soldiers face charges on acts they allegedly committed while assigned with the Army's Ordnance Center and School at Aberdeen. Staff Sgt. Delmar Simpson, a drill sergeant now in pre-trial confinement at Quantico Marine Corps Base, Va., faces charges of rape, forcible sodomy, adultery and obstruction of justice. He also faces charges he violated school policy and maltreatment of a subordinate.

 

Army Capt. Derrick Robertson, a former company commander, faces charges of rape, violation of the school regulations prohibiting improper student/cadre relationships and conduct unbecoming an officer. Robertson also faces adultery and obstruction of justice charges.

 

Also charged is Staff Sgt. Nathaniel Beach, another drill sergeant. Beach faces obstruction of justice charges, violation of the school's policy guidance on improper student/cadre relations and disobeying an order from a superior officer.

 

Aberdeen officials said two other service members face administrative penalties. They also suspended 15 other trainers as a result of their investigation.

 

Since the Army established a toll-free phone number (800-903-4241) Nov. 7 to take sexual misconduct complaints, nearly 2,000 calls have come in to Army officials. Nearly 150 calls warrant serious investigation.

 

Officials also said there are a series of complaints related to training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. The Washington Post reports a separate criminal investigation is looking into those allegations.

 

"This type of conduct strikes at the heart of our ability to provide safe and effective training for America's sons and daughters entrusted to our care," said Army Maj. Gen. Robert D. Shadley, who commands the Ordnance Center and School.

 

"The emphasis by the chain of command has been and continues to be taking care of soldiers and concern for the health and safety for Army trainees," Shadley added. "Drill sergeants and training cadre are the stewards of a special trust and responsibility. We must ensure that they do not abuse their power, use their position, to intimidate or harm trainees, or coerce them to engage in sexual acts. The resulting physical and mental suffering is abusive, unwanted and unjustified.

 

"I am extremely concerned about the well-being of our soldiers, and my three immediate goals are: one, to provide the victims with the support they need. Two, to allow the judicial system to work. And three, to make all necessary systemic changes to preclude a recurrence."

 

In addition to the ongoing criminal investigation by the U.S. Army Criminal Investigation Command, Shadley launched a separate fact-finding investigation. He said it will determine if there were any systemic problems that may have fostered any potentially illegal acts or inappropriate relationships in the units.

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