To view copy of report click here http://www.defenselink.mil/home/pdf/High_GPO_RRC_tx.pdf , to view copy of slides click here http://www.defenselink.mil/news/Aug2005/d20050825harassment.pdf .
DAVID CHU (undersecretary of Defense for Personnel and Readiness): Good afternoon, ladies and gentlemen.
Sexual harassment and violence are anathema to honorable service to our nation. Sexual misconduct of any sort is absolutely contrary to the values of our society and of our armed forces. All members of the armed forces have the right to expect to be treated with professionalism, dignity and respect on duty and off duty. For the past 10 months, we have been actively engaged in revising our policies and procedures for addressing these matters within the department as a whole. We are here today to hear the findings of a special task force focused on our military academies: the United States Military Academy at West Point and the United States Naval Academy at Annapolis.
In the 2004 Defense Authorization Bill, Congress directed the secretary of Defense to establish a task force to examine matters relating to sexual harassment and violence at the United States Military Academy and the United States Naval Academy. That task force consisted of six members from inside the Department of Defense and six from outside the department and was co-chaired by one Defense Department member and one non-Defense Department member. It is important to note that this was not an investigation and not the result of any specific incident at either academy. The charter for this group was to -- and I quote -- "to assess and make recommendations concerning how the Departments of the Army and Navy may more effectively address sexual harassment and assault," end quote, at the academies.
From last September to this past June, the task force examined the issues of sexual harassment and violence at West Point and Annapolis. The members interviewed hundreds of experts, scholars, victims, advocates, school officials, law enforcement officials, cadets and midshipmen. They conducted dozens of focus groups and poured through thousands of page(s) of documents, surveys, case files and other information. They visited both subject academies several times as well as their respective preparatory schools. They visited the Air Force Academy and the Coast Guard Academy. In short, these individuals -- each of whom has a full-time job and other major responsibilities -- have devoted thousands of hours to this important task. Today, we will release their report.
In the weeks ahead, the Department of Defense will review and evaluate the findings of the task force and its recommendations, and then provide our analysis to the Senate and House Armed Services Committees as required by the 2004 [Defense] Authorization Act.
The department is determined to continue our aggressive efforts to halt sexual misconduct of any sort by refining and improving our policies and procedures, and applying them to the field force. The dedicated efforts of these 12 individuals have gone a great distance, I believe, for helping the department achieve this goal.
It is my pleasure this afternoon to introduce the co-chairs of this task force, Vice Admiral Jerry Hoewing, who is the chief of naval personnel, and Ms. Delilah Rumburg, who is the executive director of the Pennsylvania Coalition Against Rape. On behalf of the secretary of Defense and the entire department, I want to thank them publicly, and all the members of the task force, for a job truly well done.
Admiral Hoewing, Ms. Rumburg, it's all yours.
ADM. HOEWING: Dr. Chu, thank you very, very much. We have about a 15, 16, 17-slide presentation that we're going to do. We would ask that you hold your questions till the end of the presentation, and then we'll take those questions on.
Next slide, please. Slide two.
As Dr. Chu just said, this task force was directed by the 2004 NDAA bill. The membership was, in fact, six military, six civilian. We had representatives from all of the military services, including a senior enlisted member from the United States Marine Corps.
Our methodology for doing this assessment was pretty much a standard methodology by doing site visits, contact with victims, various -- reviewing various survey data, and a total review of the policies and procedures that were taking place at the academies.
Our timeline that we were allotted was one year. We're very proud to say that we finished that within a nine-month period, and I believe that was due to the dedicated efforts of those 12 members of the task force and a wonderful staff that supported us.
On slide three, I just want to highlight the key themes and conclusions that we came to as a part of the task force at a very high level.
First of all, when compared with civilian universities around the United States of America, it doesn't make any difference whether it's an academy or a civilian institution: sexual assault -- sexual violence -- is the most underreported crime in the United States of America. It is incredibly complex. These are social issues that we've been working on for years in both the civilian and the military sector, and it is difficult to make enduring change, but we are specifically focused on providing the recommendations in order to help make the changes in those areas.
We focused on two general areas. One is confidentiality and the importance of confidentiality in providing support to the victim, number one, and as an enhancement to the military leadership in being able to hold offenders accountable because they will be more likely to formally report if they have confidential reporting sources.
We also focused on service academy culture. Both academies and their prep schools have many new programs out there. They are working hard -- very hard -- on these issues. But there are still some cultural things out there that we need to continually address, over time, through training and education and development. In other words, this is something that we're going to have to continue to dedicate a lot of hours, a lot of resources and a lot of time.
Our recommendations go the full range, from statutory reform right down to the most minute technical change that would improve safety within the dormitories or the halls.
MS. RUMBURG: Next slide, please.
I want to address the issue of confidentiality. And what we've found at the two academies that -- it was really in adequate or confusing about the ways that cadets or midshipmen can come forward and have privileged communications. And we also know, particularly from civilian experiences, individuals may not seek medical care or psychotherapy if there is concern about not having privileged communications or having some place to go where they feel safe in disclosing information about their sexual assault.
And one of the things we find that's very similar anywhere else or one of the reasons it is underreported is because of fear of being ostracized, you know, further sexual harassment, the way the media may play into it. So we know that that's very similar at both academies, as well as in our civilian institutions. And we felt strongly that it was more important -- with confidential reporting -- it was more important to have that in place, so that the victims could get the medical care and the counseling that they needed. And in fact, when that confidential communications was in place, we expect that we would see actually, hopefully, more reports, because when the victims feel safe and comfortable, and they have support of an advocate behind them, then they could be better prepared to go forward in the reporting process.
But if nothing else, we're going to have healthier individuals. If they're sexually assaulted, we do know from experience that having immediate medical care and counseling support is going to create a healthier serviceperson. And I think that was a key thing that we thought, that that's what we wanted, was healthy individuals to come out of an awful thing such as a sexual attack, sexual violence.
So if you'll look at the next slide, our recommendations that we establish in law a statutory privilege protecting communications made by victims to health care providers and victim advocates. And the privilege should extend to both medical and mental health care providers, and to those victim advocates designated to perform that duty.
We recognize that OSD has -- already does have -- a policy in place, and we support that. But we think we need to go the next step and create this by law, statutorily, and we think that's the right thing to do.
ADM. HOEWING: Next slide is on service academy culture.
Academies are challenged with an extreme challenge, and that is that they have to transform young Americans, mostly out of high school, into military leaders in a very short period of time. And that's why we say it's such a complex task.
Our core values of duty, honor, country, honor, courage and commitment are extremely important as you shape those values for the future. We found in our assessment by looking at the data and also talking with both the staff, faculties, and the cadets and midshipmen, that we were able to group factors that shape academy culture into eight general areas, and they are listed on this slide. These areas range from understanding the value of women in the military, particularly in a male-dominated military over the history, all the way down to understanding the differences in attitudes of the disparities and the attitudes on gender, such as only about 15 to 17 percent of the cadets and midshipmen are women, there is combat exclusion from some of the most coveted combat environments, and there are differing physical standards. They need to understand why those differences are there, and that is why the training and education programs are so important.
I would also like to highlight the impact of youth culture. This is a clash between what we see as more casual attitudes towards sexual activity when you come into an academy that comes into direct clash with a highly regulated and disciplined environment. That creates a cultural tension that we have to focus on through education and learning.
I'd also like to highlight peer loyalty. Peer loyalty is taught at the academies. It's good, unless it goes to the point where peer loyalty overrides inserting themselves in order to stop abhorrent behavior. We think that we have to teach that also as a part of that process.
Our academies should be commended on their honor systems. If the survey data will show that cadets and midshipmen truly believe in the honor system and they will follow that honor system. We believe the next step, then, is to make honorable behavior on the same level as the honor code.
Our findings, then, associated with service academy culture, is that historically, sexual harassment has been inadequately addressed at the academies. It still exists. Harassment is the more prevalent and corrosive problem which creates an environment in which sexual assault is more likely to occur. Although progress has been made -- and a lot of progress has been made at the academies -- hostile attitudes and inappropriate actions towards women and the toleration of these by some cadets and midshipmen continue to hinder the establishment of a safe and professional environment in which to prepare future military officers. These eight factors come to conflict that leads to this finding. There's been extensive efforts by both academies in employing new programs, implementing new programs, new policies, new training programs, and they should be commended for that.
The next slide shows the associated recommendation, and that reads that midshipmen and cadets must assume more responsibility for holding each other accountable by intervening, confronting and correcting each other for infractions. That means assuming more accountability by intervening and overcoming those peer pressure- related things that we talked about a moment ago.
Additionally, we believe that the use of modern survey and management tools should be implemented on a permanent basis. The 2004 Authorization Act directed the Department of Defense to conduct a five-year baseline of trend data associated with sexual assaults at the academies. We believe that that should be totally professionalized, implemented and done by DMDC over a course of several years, the Defense Manpower Data Center, and that we really focus on making sure that those questions that we are asking these cadets and midshipmen are the most professional and rooted in science questions that they could possibly be.
And finally, leadership, faculty and staff must model behaviors that reflect and positively convey the value of women in the military. What we're talking about here is embedding, through training and education not only with the cadets and midshipmen but with the staff and faculty, the history on how women became integrated into the military, the importance that women serve in the roles that they do in the military, and that they should then model that behavior in front of the cadets and midshipmen as a result of that.
On slide number nine, another finding that attaches to that last one is our finding that an insufficient number of women peers and role models are available to cadets and midshipmen. As I said earlier, 15 to 17 percent of our cadets and midshipmen are women, a smaller number in the senior levels within the faculty and staff, for good reason. We don't have that many senior women yet in the military. We are growing them as fast as we can, but it takes 20 to 30 years to do so in order to raise to those higher levels of rank. Increasing the number and visibility within both the officer and the NCO -- noncommissioned officer ranks -- to serve as role models will be an essential element in becoming a role model.
So the recommendations, then, are to increase the number and visibility of female officers and NCOs in key positions, to include long-distance mentoring and other techniques so that senior role models will be able to interface with women over time. To increase the percentage of women cadets and midshipmen at the academies within current service operational constraints, if they're able to do so with combat exclusion as it is written today, we would like to see them go to 20 or more percent in order to be able to, you know, get -- in order to get out of the minority atmosphere associated with the number of women.
And then, finally, ensure the consistent opportunities for women to be involved in the leadership positions throughout the academy are very important. When there are so few, it means that we will have to specifically place women in areas where they will be seen as role models and models for all to observe.
MS. RUMBURG: Next slide, victims' rights and support.
This was one area that we wanted to pay a lot of attention to when we were doing our assessment, to find out how the academies were supporting the victims and make sure that the victims' rights were upheld. And one of the things I was impressed with when we first went and -- when we first visited the academies is the progress that had already started, the work that was already being done. I was very impressed with the way they were moving forward to strengthen their programs. They had heard of complaints of sexual harassment and assault and, so, you know, they're asking questions, how can we take this seriously? They were looking to the civilian community; what kind of programs do you know that work, can we institute those? So I've been really impressed of the way I, as the civilian co-chair, have been able to interact with them and their attempts to really try to make things to work the best way that they can at the academies.
And -- however, we did find, again, as I mentioned earlier about confidentiality, some of that was confusing. Even, you know, the staff and the faculty weren't always clear about where the best place to go, how do you make those referrals; you know, how does the system really work? So, you know, so we need to fine-tune that and have some clarity there so that everybody's real clear about that. They were using terms like limited confidentiality. That's not clear. What does that mean? We really think we need to be talking about absolute confidentiality. So we started working with some of those issues and looking, again, to define what the programs were doing. Like at the Naval Academy, they have the SAVI [Sexual Assault and Victim Intervention] program. How can we make sure that those are working really well?
Sometimes we did find a few cases when victims that had -- in years past -- had come forward and talked to us. We met with lots of victims throughout this process, and some of those victims felt that they weren't afforded their rights -- they weren't kept informed about the process, how it was going through the criminal justice system. So we found some of those cases where we say we can strengthen that and we can more for that. We found some loopholes, again, in confidentiality with the psychotherapists.
So if you look at the next slide, that's why we feel that training -- again, you're going to hear this consistently throughout our recommendations -- training, training, training is key. Everybody needs to understand where the resources are, what that means, what kind of privilege of confidentiality is there, where can the victims go for support; you know, can they can go off base or off the grounds to meet with civilian counselors. So I think that's really, really critical, again, that we train and provide the education, so that everybody understands what is available for that. Certainly the new DOD Sexual Assault Response Policy, we want to see that implemented and want to support them as they begin to implement the new policy at the academies.
Victim/witness coordinators need to -- once the report is made, once a victim chooses to make a report, to go through the criminal justice system -- that a victim/witness coordinator is with that person all along as well as an advocate, so that we know that their rights are, you know, upheld at the beginning of the investigation and through every phase of the case. That's critical.
Again, we looked at such things though, how can, you know, we get rid of some of the stigma, and we've said, you know, let's get, for example, the psychotherapist. You know, when somebody said, you know, you're referred to see the psychotherapist -- let's get those people more involved, so that there's not a stigma attached to the counseling center. You know, get them more involved, make them more visible in the academy communities, so that there isn't a stigma attached to, you know, being healthy, seeing a counselor when perhaps if you have issues.
One of the things that we talked about many, you have to understand, many of these cadets and midshipmen may have already been victims of sexual assault, and so it's really critical that if that has been an issue coming forward before they even come into the academy, that there are systems in place for their care, so that they will be healthy soldiers as they move through the academies and on out beyond as young officers.
And I think one of the other things we said, just the location of the office. Where the psychotherapist's office is located could be key. We looked at things as small as that.
ADM. HOEWING: On slide number 12, we looked at the issue of offender accountability. Now, what we found was that there were few instances where either academy was able to take an offense all the way to a court-martial and succeed in a conviction using the criminal justice system. They were effective at using the administrative measures such as disciplinary measures, dismissal from the academy, resignation in lieu of -- as a means of being able to hold people accountable. However, what we did see is there has been much progress over the last two years at both institutions in moving out in this area, and in fact we have four successful court-martials, plus the administrative actions that have taken place in the last two years.
Now, the second finding that we'll discuss here today is that in some cases, the sexual misconduct statutes, including, and particularly the rape statute, hamper our ability to prove cases. They -- these are 1950s sorts of views of rape and sexual misconduct within the statute, and our finding shows that there's an opportunity here in order to modernize those like many of the states and the federal government has done.
So our recommendation on slide 13 is that Congress should revise the current sexual misconduct statutes to more clearly and comprehensively address modern or contemporary sexual misconduct that we see at the academies. Our task force recommends that we -- that if we implement this statute change clearly defining the degrees of sexual misconduct and clearer definitions of rape, that we would be able to assist in the training and education element of this issue and would also address a very important issue that is very difficult for our academies right now, and that is the issue of no consent and also no force.
There are some other areas that we believe that we could delve into, to include stalking -- it is not necessarily included right now -- senior-junior relationships and the influence of alcohol in the prosecution of these cases.
MS. RUMBURG: As I said consistently, education and training is key to having the academies function as they should in the support of the reporting of the assaults, as well as supporting the victim for the counseling and the help that they need, medical care.
And we did find that both of the academies have established prevention and response programs, but we found some weaknesses, and we wanted to make some recommendations around that. We say let's build on your strengths. You have some things in place now. Let's find those things that are working. Let's build on those strengths.
And for example, we thought that if you could exempt -- I mean, adapt existing programs into academic mandatory graded courses that address sexual assault and harassment, and the larger context of military leadership and ethics, that would be key. I felt that was -- we felt, as the task force, that that was one of the places where there was a weakness. For example, sexual harassment issues were under the purview of the equal opportunity program, sexual assault was addressed under the intervention program, and there wasn't a real connection.
What we're saying -- we're building leaders here, and it needs to be a leadership issue. So it should be integrated throughout the course curriculum over the four years, progressively get more sophisticated, and talk about what responsibilities these individuals will have as leaders. These are really smart young people. They're going to be future leaders of this country. Let's take those strengths and provide the education and training to provide -- help them be better prepared to be our future leaders, once they go out, leave the academies. And we know that in doing so, that really will prepare them to be effective leaders and meet the needs of readiness and effectiveness in the field.
In the prevention area, again, execution and management of the sexual harassment and the assault prevention programs at the academies -- it seemed to be fragmented and inadequate. They did have programs in place, but again, there was no plan. You know, let's say this is the kind of prevention program we're going to put in when the cadets and midshipmen come in the first year. We're going to build on that second year. These are the kinds of activities. They had some really good programs. They would bring in special speakers throughout the year. But we felt that really if there was a plan developed, that we would see some real differences there.
And one of the things we recommended is have the cadets and midshipmen involved in that. What kinds of programs can we put in place that will actually be considered primary prevention programs? We looked at the public health model, for example; can we take some of the things we have learned through the public health model and kind of implement that and look at how that might work within the academy system; and because it addresses things like, you know, individuals, families and community, how do we all work together to stop the crime of sexual harassment and sexual violence in the military. And we think that that's one of the ways to do that.
So we're saying that that plan should be developed annually, but look at it annually. You know, talk to the civilians; what's working, let's do an evaluation, let's have an outcomes piece to that. And if it's not working, let's adjust it, let's fix it, let's look at the research; what are we learning about prevention programs nationally, what works best? And as we learn that, and again, in collaboration with the civilian community, let's implement those programs and hopefully can be more successful in actually doing primary prevention work at the academies.
ADM. HOEWING: The final area is coordination between military and civilian communities. Our finding was that there were no formalized coordinative relationships, formalized through written documentation. There were informal relationships that were there. Our recommendation is very straightforward that we establish collaborative relationships with civilian authorities for sexual assault victim support, write them down, document them formally, and in those areas where we do have informal relationships that it's more advantageous to both parties to stay in an informal relationship, let's at least document those relationships so that they will be maintained in the future as we move down the line.
Our final slide is this task force will conclude after our report goes to Congress and will be reconstituted at the direction of the 2005 authorization bill to reconstitute and go out and take a look at how the services, all of the services, are addressing the issues of sexual assault across the force. Several members of the task force will continue on in that light, and the Secretary of Defense is working right now in order to formalize and finalize the makeup of that task force.
Ladies and gentlemen, that concludes our formal presentation, and we'll take your questions now. Sir?
Q Admiral, Ms. Rumburg, you all provide no figures here on the number of sexual assault cases or harassment cases at the academies. I'm wondering, did you find -- we realize it wasn't in your purview to do that, to investigate that, but were there more assaults at the Naval Academy than at West Point? And was the situation more egregious at either school?
MS. RUMBURG: I think that on page 4 in the report there is a chart there. We did look at some numbers, and I think that there's not a great difference in the numbers, so we didn't find any major differences in the numbers in the academies. They're, you know, fairly consistent, I think.
Q And also, when you recommend changes in the statute, you're talking about general statutes involving cases of sexual assault, in both the public sector and at the academies, right? You're not talking about anything particularly aimed at the services or the academies?
ADM. HOEWING: What we're talking about here is, starting with the DOD related statutes, the Uniform Code of Military Justice -- one of our members of our task force was the director of the Office for Violence Against Women at the Department of Labor. This moves in the correct direction, we believe, in order to take the things that we've learned that we want to implement at the academies and even make them more broadly available to the United States of America.
MS. RUMBURG: But if you're asking about confidentiality, that statute -- and most states already have that privilege, privileged communications around confidentiality. And so we're looking to something to make sure that individuals in the military service would have the same confidential privilege available to them as we have in the civilian world.
ADM. HOEWING: Sir?
Q Admiral, Ms. Rumburg, do you have some numbers you can share from the data call that was sent out to each service academy in terms of the number of reported incidents? I mean aside from the IG's survey.
MS. RUMBURG: I don't have that here with me today, no.
ADM. HOEWING: So what we -- we used the data that was already available, rather than go out and doing additional data calls in this particular area. What we did do is very specifically look at every documented assault in order to understand the circumstances behind them. But as far as additional surveys or additional data calls on numbers and things like that, we did not do that.
Q I don't actually have a copy of the report in front of me. I'm sorry to say that I didn't take a look at it. But you mentioned quite a bit about male-on-female assault. Have you looked at male-on-male assault?
MS. RUMBURG: Absolutely, and I realize that when I talk that, I typically make the mistake of talking about female victims. And of course we know that most of the sexual assault victims are female, but absolutely we do have numbers -- there is male-on-male sexual assault.
Q Can you speak a little bit on the numbers?
MS. RUMBURG: The numbers aren't nearly as great as they are in female. And I think you'll find it's -- the percentages are about the same that you'd have in the -- you know, in the civilian world. They're -- they would be similar.
ADM. HOEWING: Sir?
Q Your very first recommendation is for the midshipmen and cadets to take more responsibility in preventing sexual assault and harassment. But at the same time, you point out the problem of the cadets and midshipmen tending to be more loyal to each other than they are to enforcing the rules. So how can they take this responsibility if that's their attitude, at least in the short term, until you manage to change that attitude?
And what would you say is the balance between the responsibility of the students to take care of this issue versus the responsibility of the leadership of the academy, services and department to deal with the issue?
ADM. HOEWING: It goes both ways. Accountability is all about upholding standards. Our cadets and midshipmen, therefore, must learn that there is no middle ground when it comes to upholding those standards. We believe that that can be taught through training and education programs. And we also believe that it's a part -- a responsibility of the institutions in order to be able to provide that education and learning to do that. So we believe they go hand in hand. They can't do it on their own; they need to be taught and given the tools in order to be able to do that.
MS. RUMBURG: And we think that's why I stressed let's make it part of leadership and ethics. You know, what would a good leader do in this case? You know, so you do have a responsibility to, you know, the other cadets and midshipmen to take the lead on this. As a good leader, you need to confront. When you see sexual harassment, when you know something about sexual violence may be happening, as a future leader, it's -- you have some responsibility to say that, you know that's not acceptable in our culture. And so that's what we're trying to -- you know, is to develop that sense. And it is about integrating it throughout the training throughout the four years at the academy.
Q Can I follow up? What types of offenses form the preponderance of offenses that we're talking about? Are these comments that some might offensive and some might not find offensive? Or are they clearly offensive or proposition-type comments? Physical conduct, abuse of authority? What are you talking about?
ADM. HOEWING: The majority are jokes, sexual innuendoes, things like that that happen on a casual basis. We believe that if those continue, that the next step is that they become more egregious. That could result to touching and things like that that could eventually lead to a sexual assault or worse.
Q So I mean, you're saying the majority are these type of jokes or that -- can you break it up in some way? I mean, how many cross the line into what you would consider serious harassment bordering on -- or, you know, creating that environment for assault?
MS. RUMBURG: Well, I -- personally, I think any comment -- insulting comment -- (chuckles) -- that is derogatory to women is actually an egregious, you know, statement, and that's why we're saying it's not acceptable. And I think what we -- we have to look at, you know, our culture as a whole. These kids are coming to us with the music that -- you know, the new generation of music that uses unacceptable language to talk about women, you know, in their songs and, you know, the sexualization of women. So these kids are coming to us with that culture kind of wrapped around who they are and what's been acceptable. And so what we're saying, when you come into the academy, you know, you can't do that anymore because of -- you know, that we live in a culture that allows that kind of behavior to actually exist, and there haven't been any parameters around that very seriously in their lives probably before they come to the academy. And so this is a real shift for these kids; like, whoa, you know, these folks are serious about no tolerance for, you know, harassing language and behavior. And I think, you know, as the culture -- individuals, civilians -- we have to take the responsibility for our youth and their behavior.
ADM. HOEWING: Ma'am?
Q I took note of your statement about the honor code and trying to bring people into a mind-set of honor code encompassing honorable behavior. I have something of a problem with that what. You noted correctly that these are very, very smart kids. Rap music and whatever causes this sort of cultural environment notwithstanding. I mean, I was not an academy student when I was in college, a freshman, but even then I clearly understood a derogatory comment was wrong. I can't -- I really have a hard time believing these kids don't know that they're doing something wrong when they do these things.
ADM. HOEWING: Well, they happen. They truly do happen. Now, let's put it into a context. Remember I talked about a small percentage, 15 to 17 percent female cadets, exclusion from combat specialties, and differing physical standards, and young. Coming in with the background that Delilah has just talked about. We believe that when you throw on top of that a warrior ethos -- that is incredibly important for our military -- in a male-dominated environment, you know, that sets up a stage where the cadets and/or the midshipmen are in a position where they get confused. And we believe that it's the responsibility of the institutions to help them sort that out.
Q Confused in what way?
ADM. HOEWING: As to what is warrior ethos and what is offensive behavior. Over here on the other side.
Q In no warrior code do I know is attacking or degrading women allowable. Are you talking about aggressive behavior?
MS. RUMBURG: I think what we're talking about, it's almost like it's a groupthink it feels like. That's one of the things we spent a long time looking at, is the culture, what is it about the culture that perhaps male cadets or midshipmen think they can get by with it.
And I think -- again, the admiral addressed that. You have a minority of women. You have a lot of people that believe women never should have been admitted to the academies. That's the thing coming in here. You're right, kids know what's right and wrong, but they come in many times, you know, hearing, you know, grandfathers or uncles saying, you know, women never should have been admitted there. So they're coming in kind of confused about, well, maybe women should have never been put here, because, you know, we're warriors and, you know, so what role do women have and that's why when the admiral talked about it's important that we have role models, we have women that have served in combat areas that can serve as role models, and they can see that, you know what, women do have a role and they're not here just because we had to put them here, they're here because we needed women in the services, to be better, to do -- you know, help us to do better work and to fill the many needs of the service requirements. It's not because we just had to let them in because, you know, we were required to, it's because women are important to the success of the academies and the armed forces and they have an important role to fill.
And I think when that message is clear that that's what we're sending as a society, then I think you're going to see an erosion of that kind of behavior. But they have heard some things coming in here. You know what -- you know, there are no surprises about some of the things that have been said. So I think that's what we're trying to dispel, is that once you get here, you need to realize that that kind of behavior is not acceptable, that's not our culture and we will not tolerate it.
ADM. HOEWING: Sir?
Q I don't think this is part of what you were doing in the report, but was there anything you found in either school that looked like there was a serious problem that needed immediate addressing, be it a culture or a leadership that you may or may not have recommended that some folks need immediate attention to, that there's going to be a problem here very soon if something isn't addressed, as opposed to long range and having the DOD look at this and going down the line? Was there anything at either school that would have sent up red flags?
ADM. HOEWING: There was a clear record on the part of the leaders at both of those institutions that they are using the tools that they have at hand and, in fact expanding the tools that they have at hand in order to make sure that those sorts of things don't happen. If you look at the data, the cadets and midshipmen themselves believe that the leadership of the institution are working this issue very, very hard, are on the right direction and are putting incredible amounts of energy to it. At no time during our assessment did we find any evidence of any malfeasance or cover-up or any of those sorts of things, and that in every case, if a victim had come forward in a reported relationship, that academy, either one of them, was going to take it incredibly serious and provide the victim every support they possibly could.
Q You mentioned the phrase "limited confidentiality" and the fact that that might have been a little bit problematic. I've heard some people say at the Naval Academy that they've set up a program in which they have two forms of reporting, and one was limited confidentiality. Can you elaborate on why you thought that was a problem?
MS. RUMBURG: Well, because in the civilian world, you either have confidentiality or you don't. And I think that's where some of the confusion was, is like, "Oh, well, who can I talk to and know that no matter what I say will be privileged communication?" So we really feel that privileged communications is important. They have got to have avenues of privileged communication and it has to be clear. As it now is, they all knew that they could go to the chaplain, but you still had cadets and midshipmen that really needed to go -- wanted more, to see a psychotherapist, perhaps see a medical doctor, and to know that they could go. You know, it's critical that they feel like they can get the health care, because at the time if they have a sexual assault nurse examiner doing that examination, you know, that forensic evidence can be kept should, you know, the victim decide to come forward.
So as it stood in the past, if they went to see someone at the medical facility, that information would be reported up, and so there would be some hesitancy because they weren't ready, you know, to report. So I think that's really, really critical, where there are those confidential avenues and everybody's clear where they can go, you know, and have privileged communications and feel safe.
Q I was surprised to learn that even today, that only 15 to 17 percent of the students are females. Is that because they're not applying, they're not being nominated; or they're not being accepted because they can't take part in combat?
ADM. HOEWING: I think the answer is that only so many nominations are coming forward of females. When we rack and stack the quality of the individuals using the whole person assessment process, we end up picking the best and the brightest, and that is where the results have come.
Our recommendation is that we try to push forward, bring more qualified applicants forward, so that the academies have the opportunity to choose more because the volume of applicants -- qualified applicants, highly qualified applicants, are there.
Q So you're not only perhaps picking the best and the brightest, as you put it, but perhaps those who are more physically qualified for combat, for the academies?
ADM. HOEWING: Well, you know, you have to remember -- in fact, one of our recommendations was, if you can increase the number, we would recommend to do so. But if you only -- if you still have a segment of the armed forces that -- where you have combat exclusion and you overstack the academy, that means that it's more difficult in order to fill all those responsibilities out there. So there's a delicate balance that the institutions have to have in order to make sure that they’re able to fill all of their requirements, as laid on them by their parent service. That's why we say it should be based the operational requirements, so that they can meet those operational requirements.
Q Regarding the service academy culture, can you share anything that you heard sort of anecdotally from female midshipmen or cadets in terms of some of the experiences they've had and what -- just what they've seen there, in terms of how that --
MS. RUMBURG: Well, and actually you'll find some of those in the footnotes in our report. Some of the language they would use -- and I can't remember what they all stood for, but derogatory terms about the size of their hips or "gray trou" or something like that. And they didn't use -- they knew that they didn't use -- gray trousers -- they didn't use that term to describe a male individual.
So there were just things like that, that they would hear derogatory comments as they walked by, just -- you know, just those kind of underlying things that they felt like, you know -- "we know, you know, we're not wanted here." There -- comments would be made, perhaps, about their inability to -- or the fact that they didn't have the same physical standards, as the admiral said, "Oh, well, you know, you're not up to it because you don't have to do the same things that we do physically" -- just those kind of just -- undercurrent of "you're not as good as" -- "because you're not a man," you know, just that kind of that undercurrent of, you know, sidebar comments as they'd be walking through -- for example, walking -- one of the comments we made was -- recommendations is the location of the showers. You know, they had -- you'd hear some of the -- it was -- the cadets, I guess, had said as they'd walk to the shower, you know, they'd hear comments from the guys in the hall. So we're saying maybe you ought to think about how those are located. They did not want to be separated. They still want to be integrated, you know, into the housing, but perhaps one of the things they ought to look at is can you, like, cluster the women down at one end near the showers, so that comments aren't made as you go into the showers -- things like that.
ADM. HOEWING: Sir?
Q Can we clarify on confidentiality? What's your recommendation regarding commanders? What sort of information should they be able to have regarding situations in their command while still protecting the victim?
MS. RUMBURG: Well, we want them to have the numbers, and we have talked about that several times -- you know, that there wouldn't be identifying information, but you know, the hospital could say we saw, you know, three cadets or three midshipmen for sexual assault exams, but they have chosen not, you know, to file an official report. So they will have the numbers.
And we're saying, you know, that's why it's important that they have, for example, counselors that they can talk to. If a counselor knows, you know, that we've had a string of assaults here, that's up to the counselors to be saying to these individuals, "You know what? We've got three or four women that are reporting something here. Is that something you want to think about?" Let's talk about reporting. We'd never force them to, but I think as -- you know, if they know that there's a safe environment, they're going to be believed, then I think you're going to see them coming forward and reporting it, so that the command will have that information.
Because we all want the same thing. Everybody wants to hold them accountable, and we want to make sure that the truth is revealed through the criminal justice system. So that's our role as advocates, and that's the role of command to make sure that we have an environment where victims feel that they can come forward and that they'll be believed, and they'll be protected, their rights will be protected as they go through the process.
ADM. HOEWING: And that non-identifying information may be the trigger that would allow the commandant or the superintendent during their training time of the day in order to focus some training and education in that particular area without identifying information.
Ladies and gentlemen, thank you very much for your time and attention. And Dr. Chu, thanks for the opportunity to serve the nation in this manner.
MR. CHU: You're very, very welcome.
(C) COPYRIGHT 2005, FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC., 1000 VERMONT AVE. NW; 5TH FLOOR; WASHINGTON, DC - 20005, USA. ALL RIGHTS RESERVED. ANY REPRODUCTION, REDISTRIBUTION OR RETRANSMISSION IS EXPRESSLY PROHIBITED. UNAUTHORIZED REPRODUCTION, REDISTRIBUTION OR RETRANSMISSION CONSTITUTES A MISAPPROPRIATION UNDER APPLICABLE UNFAIR COMPETITION LAW, AND FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC. RESERVES THE RIGHT TO PURSUE ALL REMEDIES AVAILABLE TO IT IN RESPECT TO SUCH MISAPPROPRIATION. FEDERAL NEWS SERVICE, INC. IS A PRIVATE FIRM AND IS NOT AFFILIATED WITH THE FEDERAL GOVERNMENT. NO COPYRIGHT IS CLAIMED AS TO ANY PART OF THE ORIGINAL WORK PREPARED BY A UNITED STATES GOVERNMENT OFFICER OR EMPLOYEE AS PART OF THAT PERSON'S OFFICIAL DUTIES. FOR INFORMATION ON SUBSCRIBING TO FNS, PLEASE CALL JACK GRAEME AT 202-347-1400.