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Female Officer To Handle Sex Assaults

Air Force Academy
AP
One of the new female senior officers at the Air Force Academy will watch over future sexual-assault cases to ensure they are handled properly, an Air Force official said.

Col. Debra Gray, the incoming vice commandant of cadets and a 1980 academy graduate, is to arrive next month, said Gen. John Jumper, the Air Force chief of staff said Thursday.

"Her job will include ombudsman type of duties where she will have a staff that includes medics and lawyers, first responders, so that anyone who does come forward will have an advocate right off the bat," said Jumper, the highest-ranking officer in the Air Force.

In past years, cadets could opt to report assaults by anonymously calling the cadet-staffed program CASIE, or Cadets Advocating Sexual Integrity and Education. Because no names were involved, some cases were never prosecuted, Jumper said.

The Air Force's top general was at the academy Thursday to attend a memorial service for a retired general.

A day earlier, Jumper and Air Force Secretary James Roche announced five top officers at the academy were being reassigned and that various policies were changing.

The announcement followed an internal investigation after dozens of women said they were assaulted or raped at the academy and then punished, shunned or ignored for doing so. The Air Force said 56 women have reported sexual assaults over the past 10 years.

Changes will include "clustering" women cadets in coed dorms, stricter dorm rules, and amnesty for victims to ensure they don't get punished for infractions such as drinking when they report an assault.

Jumper said that in the past, victims often didn't find out what happened to their allegations and attackers because of how privacy rules were interpreted.

"That tells me that we've got a system that first of all has gotten bad advice from lawyers," Jumper said. "To say that I can't come back and communicate with you the status of the investigation that you've gotten started is, to me, silly."