An anonymous letter told top Air Force officials about rape allegations at the Air Force Academy six months before the scandal became public, Pentagon records show.
The text of the unsigned letter, dated June 28, 2002, is contained in a newly released report from the Defense Department inspector general’s office. The inspector general is still investigating the way Air Force officials responded to the letter.
The letter was addressed to then-Air Force Secretary James Roche, Chief of Staff John Jumper and others.
“Female cadets are being raped and sexually harassed by male cadets and academy officials refuse to prosecute the male rapists,” the letter said.
The letter includes other allegations, some of which were reiterated later by female cadets. The letter said women were punished for reporting rapes, that an officer told women that being raped was their fault and that counselors seemed more worried about the academy’s reputation than about helping victims.
Report faults general
The report said the inspector general’s office, then led by Lt. Gen. Raymond Huot, focused on the officer’s alleged comments but took no disciplinary action.
The report faulted Huot for not addressing the broader issues, which erupted into a scandal in 2003.
Huot “did not respond to substantive allegations of misconduct and allegations that Air Force cadets and crime victims at the USAFA were being exploited,” the report stated. It cited him among eight academy or Air Force officials it said shared responsibility for the scandal.
Huot could not be reached for comment.
He rebutted the criticism in a written response to a draft version of the report. “Quite frankly, the draft report language smacks of attempts at sensationalism in reporting rather than an objective analysis and statements of fact,” Huot said.
He said investigators found no evidence of wrongdoing by the officer accused of disparaging a rape victim, Brig. Gen. Taco Gilbert.
Roche says he was unaware
At a congressional hearing last year, Roche said he was not aware of sexual assault problems at the academy until January 2003, and later said he never received the 2002 letter.
Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., who has led the Senate inquiry into the sexual assault scandal, was unaware of the letter until now, spokeswoman Angela de Rocha said Tuesday.
“It’s just another indicator that the Air Force had information that should have raised their suspicions about the extent of the problem at that time,” de Rocha said.