March 01, 2018

Following Udall & Hirono Advocacy, Department of Defense to Investigate Sexual Assault at U.S. Air Force Academy

Udall & Hirono Called for Inspector General Investigation Following Reports of Retaliation Against Sexual Assault Survivors

WASHINGTON -- U.S. Senators Tom Udall (D-N.M.) and Mazie K. Hirono (D-Hawaii) welcomed an announcement that the Department of Defense Office of the Inspector General is launching an investigation into the U.S. Air Force Academy’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program. A December report revealed widespread retaliation and lack of support for sexual assault survivors at the Air Force Academy.

“The behavior reported at the Air Force Academy — detailing harassment, intimidation, and retaliation against sexual assault survivors — is deeply disturbing, and it must be confronted head-on. I am glad that the Department of Defense has listened to our call for a full investigation, and I appreciate the steps that the Air Force and its leadership have already undertaken to strengthen support systems and to address such unacceptable behavior. Looking forward, the Air Force and the Department of Defense must ensure the Air Force Academy maintains an environment free of harassment in which cadets are able to put their focus where it should be: on leadership, service and academic excellence," said Senator Udall, a member of the U.S. Air Force Academy Board of Visitors.

“As we continue to confront a culture of sexual assault and harassment in all professions and walks of life, the reports of retaliation, underreporting, and further harassment against sexual assault survivors at the Air Force Academy are unacceptable. I applaud the Department of Defense for heeding our call for a necessary investigation and expect they will take appropriate action to prevent this behavior and support survivors,” said Senator Hirono, a member of the Senate Armed Services Committee and U.S. Air Force Academy Board of Visitors.

In January, Senators Udall and Hirono wrote to the Department of Defense to call for a wide-ranging Inspector General investigation. At the time, the senators wrote:

“While we have seen the Department of Defense take concrete steps in the area of preventing sexual assault, we are troubled by recent allegations surrounding the United States Air Force Academy’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program…In 2017, we expect that the Academy is much better in terms of preventing sexual assault and caring for survivors.”

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