tv House Armed Services Subcommittee Hearing on Sexual Assault at Military... CSPAN February 19, 2019 8:06am-9:33am EST
we are starting very late today because all of the women of the house and senate take a picture every year to draw attention to women's heart health and that is why we are all dressed in red. if you see members who are of the staff just coming and that is because the pictures still being taken right now. but i think when an objection we will start with them and move forward. this meeting will come to order. my name is jackie speier and i am the chair of the subcommittee of military personnel and i welcome all of you who are here today that are witnesses and members of the audience. i was profoundly disturbed when i read the annual report on sexual harassment and violence at the military service
academies. the results show that after a decade plus of conservative efforts to address sexual harassment and assault the problem has only grown worse. i believe we are all appreciate how alarming these numbers are. i cannot stress enough that the survey is among the best measures of a valence of unwanted sexual contact and harassment at any university, company, or organization. it is been over a decade with the same questions. 60% of the students participated. this isn't a blip, and need to bump or some accident. it is a clear illustration of a destructive trend in a systemic problem. the report says that in four years occurrences of unwanted sexual contact increased from
326,000 seven to 747. more than doubling the sexual assaults at the military academy. the term of unwanted sexual contact is being defined in the survey by asking very specific questions which i'm going to read now. unless any of us think that this is some mild task. the questions are sexually touched -- the question is, unwanted sexual contact behavior. sexually touched you for example, intentionally tench chain of. attempted to make you have sexual intercourse but was not successful, made you have sexual intercourse.
attempted to make you perform or receive oral, annual or penetration by finger or object but was not successful. major perform or receive oral, ain't no or penetration by a finger or object. those were the questions asked and the answers to those in questions doubled from 327-2747. what is more disturbing is the number of reported sexual assaults occurring at the academies remained stagnant. that means that the numbers went up dramatically. but the numbers who actually reported stayed the same. only 12% of assaulted individuals formally reported. so we have to ask the question, why is it that only 12% of those that have been sexually assaulted in the terms that i have just spoken did not come
forward? low report should be no surprise given that half of those who did report were retaliated against. 37% of those reported experienced social ox the schism, reflecting a culture defined by victim blaming. one of the 747 plus assaulted and 69 unrestricted reports, the academies only convicted for perpetrators. victims report at their own peril. that is the message that is being sent. because they are more likely to face consequences than the perpetrators. the case of areata and stephan stephanie, former west point students who are presently dashing previously appeared before the subcommittee demonstrate the problem. rihanna atop swimming recruit
when she reported the fellow to swim team members had sexually harassed her as a freshman. he was punished question what she was. she had to train alone. stephanie was violently raped the same year in an investigation found it's a insufficient evidence to bring charges against her rapist. after she was raped again she considered not reporting fearing again no one would believe her. stephanie reported anyway, and her attacker was convicted of assault but not sexual assault. stephanie and rihanna base retaliation in the form of mental fitness and drug test until they chose to leave the academy. this type of treatment for the brave few that do report features the rest. half of all women at the academies reported being severely sexually harassed in a
2017 - 2018 academy year. think about that. that is 1,000 622 future officers who start their careers being harassed by their peers. none of them are reported formally. not one. harassment can be a precursor to assault. we need to appreciate that. the survey, also found that only 56% of the convention think their. leaders make honest and reasonable efforts to stop the soul. so if the. leaders are not people that you can trust, it shouldn't surprise us that they are not reporting. despite the department counting relatively high trust in uniform leadership, that number of 70% is worse than it was two years
ago. to live, study and learn in an environment where harassment is so pervasive, expected and accepted, that half of all women are harassed and none report, it's a stunning rebuke and the confidence of the system, in a stunning example of perseverance by the young women. my colleagues and i have had the privilege to appoint high school seniors for admission to the academies. it is one of the great privileges we have as members of congress. they are consistently among the best, brightest and most accomplished young people in our communities. they are earnest, respectful and dedicated. and then they go away to school and we get this. i wonder if were missing something when we recommend them. if we should be looking more closely at the moral fitness. or if the culture of the schools is that crafting. perhaps, it's a little bit of both. i do know this, three out of the four high school seniors that i
recommended for admission this year are women. women will continue to attend the academies and serve our country. all three academies, freshman class, have at least 24%. and i understand that next year the numbers will grow. so the number of women coming to the academies is only going to grow, that is why it's essential that we fix this problem. these results don't call for tweaks of adjustments. the superintendents have been touting incremental fixes made after the surveys were administered. this report is an indictment of the academies of culture. we need to expand our toolbox and use both carrots and sticks to hold perpetrators accountable and to hold others with serious
percussions. academy leaders must promote a strong culture of dignity, respect, educate students on right and wrong, and have 0 tolerance present violations. the superintendents have said that they are doing much of this. but the problem has gotten worse. leaders must earn students trust by making good on promises to impose on predators. they must treat survivors uniformly. and they must address the issues that stand from over 25% of the students self identifying as being problematic drinkers. i guess my message really is quite simple. i am putting the academies on notice, were putting all of you in the situation where it is time for us to recognize that this is a crisis.
and i intend to watch it like a hawk. it is time to elevate the brave women and some men who come forward and knowing full well that retaliation is likely. and instead, take the kind of actions against purchaser enter perpetrators that will finally rid us of this rot. today, we have two panels, during the first panel we will have the opportunity to have from outside experts who have dedicated their careers to these sensitive issues. during the second panel, the department of defense and the superintendents of our military service academies, will explain whether current approaches to this problem have failed and how we can rethink our purchase to sexual violence at our academies. i look forward to hearing from all of you today.
but before i introduce our first panel, let me offer ranking member kelly an opportunity to make some opening remarks. >> thank you to the chair. first, i want to congratulate representatives fear on becoming the chairwoman this very important subcommittee on the very important services committee. i want to welcome our fellow members of the subcommittee on both sides. i look forward to working with each of you on all of the issues impacting our service members and their families. i also am very troubled by the results of this year's anal report of sexual harassment and violence of the military service academies. just as the nation continues to struggle with the national violence the military in the service academies are not immune from this crisis. every cadet and midshipman is told from day one that they must rely on each other in order to succeed at the academy. the vast majority of cadets treat each other with dignity and respect and go on to distinguished careers in the military, however, when it cadet
praise on another with sexual solar harassment, the material is profound. in shakes institution to its core. these traffic crimes not only deeply impact the victim, they do wide-ranging damage to the entire cook academy in the society as a whole. the academies have put resources and attention to improving sexual assault to prevent. nonetheless, the problem seem to be getting worse. while this is a multifaceted and difficult issue, one thing is clear. the results of the survey are unacceptable and the leadership of the military service academy must redouble their efforts in order to fix this immediately. therefore, i look forward to hearing from both of our panels today. about how to improve sexual assault prevention and response. i am particularly interested to hear from the superintendents about their plans to address this inquiries in the
prevalence. i'm interested to hear more about the efforts to enhance preadmission screening in order to accurately identify candidates who have character issues that may preclude their missions. i would also like to hear more about how the academies are improving prevention and intervention efforts to ensure they resonate with young cadets and missed shipment. finally as a former district attorney who has prosecuted crimes, i would like to learn more about how the academy is used judicial and a ministry to authorities how they hold perpetrators accountable. one case of sexual assault, violence or harassment is one too many.
one case of sexual assault that is not reported because of systemic problems is unacceptable. i want to hear how each of the service academies is proceeding to address this critical issue. with that i look forward to hearing from both of our panels and i yield back. thank you ms. spear. >> that he ranking member kelly. each witness will have the opportunity to present his or her testimony and each member will have an opportunity to question the witnesses for five minutes. we respectfully ask the witnesses to summarize the testimony of five minutes. the written comments and statements will make part of the record. now we will welcome our first panel. first retired colonel don christiansen who will protect her defenders. and second, retired colonel lawrence. chief of staff now. welcome to both of you and christiansen you can begin. >> chairwoman spear and ranking member kelly, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you on this vitally important topic for our nation security. as a brief introduction, i retired after 23 years of service as an air force jack. during the time i served twice as a defense counsel, multiple times as a prosecutor, including as the chief prosecutor for europe and southeas southwest a.
in the chief prosecutor for the united states air force. i served as a trial judge and i have been selected to serve as an appellate judge when i elect to retire. for the last four years, i've been the president of defenders, human rights organization dedicated to advocating for military sexual trauma. we provide attorneys free of charge, and i myself represent clients who are going through the often hostile military justice process. during this time i have talked with hundreds of survivors including those from the service cavities. as congresswoman spear has correctly identified there is a huge problem with sexual assault at the academies.
the one thing that i really think needs to be brought to the committee's attention is these rates compared to the active duty force. 16%, just about 16% of the women at the academies are sexually assaulted. that is four times the rate of the acciden active duty force. for men that's 2.4%. that's three times the rate of active duty force. these are sobering estimates. especially when we compared to the active duty force. yet accountability for perpetrator is almost nonexistent. last year, only four offenders were convicted at a court-martial for their offenses in a tiny handful were discharged. this should be a wake-up call for academy leadership. the failure to weed out perpetrators means that hundreds of offenders are commissioned into the active force every year. that should be very sobering. every year. hundreds of sexual offenders are commissioned into the active force. we can only imagine the impact this has on the military's ability to address sexual
assault and harassment throughout the services. service academy commission undoubtedly gives an officer in advantage for competition for promotion, command and ultimately the general flag rank. the last three chiefs of staff the air force, and five of the last seven have been air force academy grants. the current chief of naval operations as a naval academy grant. the academies have an impact on active force and much greater than actual member of their graduates. it is this very reason that congress, the president and the american people must demand solutions to what is going on. however, i fear the reality of the rapid epidemic of sexual harassment and assault is not being accepted by leadership. i also fear that leadership does not understand the level of distrust that the survivors have of the chain of command. when i talked to an academy survivor, the concept here is
the fear of the leadership. the fear that leadership won't believe them, the fear that leadership will not hold the offender accountable, the fear that leadership will drive them from the academies as they report in the numbers bear witness to that. 31% of the air force academy women and 32% of the women of the needle engine naval academy do not believe senior leadership is making an honest and reasonable effort to stop sexual assault. almost a third of the women attending those two institutions do not trust senior leadership. is it any wonder that women are reluctant to report when they're more likely to be forced out of the academies, and then end up paying in hundreds of thousands of dollars in tuition. then they are to see the perpetrator held accountable ? despite sexual assault being up 50% from two years and over fr
double four years ago. report rates as a percentage of plummeted. unrestricted reports, reports that allow us to prosecute a case or actually down to 8%. 92% of the victims do not report in a way that result in an investigation. we cannot solve this crisis of men and women who are afraid to report. again what is this mean? the preacher trader are commission officers and future leaders are active force. leadership controls every aspect of the discipline process. it is time for them to acknowledge that this is out of thisin their control and time fr them to ask in you to ask what tool have they not had for the last 20 years that they need now. and what promise are they going to make that they're actually going to carry out with. thank you and i look forward your question. >> colonel morris? >> thanks chairwoman spear members. others try to highlight a couple
of things from my prepared remarks. it was my great honor to serve 30 orders in uniform. twenty-seven as an active duty judge advocate in three as a reservist tinkerer when i was in law school. a pretty typical army career trying cases all over the world. normal installations in bosnia and southwest asia. i had the privilege of advising commanders and later on supervising counsel on both sides of the courtroom. including when i served as army's chief defense counsel, the one job that i did seek during my career. also with the chief prosecutor at one time and the sja at west point. i helped initiate the army's training program regarding sexual assault for prosecutors and defense counsel after i left the army and then at catholic university sense it. i also served on the response systems panel from 2012 - 2014.
i'm the son and father of west point nurse and the father of a marine. today i am just here giving my own opinions. the formatters i'd like to mention -- i thought i would differ a little in my bias and expectations from colonel christiansen. we have parallel careers in many respects, starting from the same law school in wisconsin and then we both have a particular affection for loyalty to people who serve. first point about data, i'm not an expert in looking at the data that has been produced and i think at least it has to be taken for the idea that there is an intractability to this problem. is not unique to the military, it's not unique to the academies, but it starts in the way it presents itself. it poses the question of how to care for, make people feel protected and confident in the system. it is -- caught my eye that also there is a relatively high level of confidence by the cadets and
midshipmen in their senior leaders. so we do expect more of the academies, but that was a notable contrast. second on training, the training is not a panacea, but it does work in his part of the solution. i think in the military, we have what some consider the conceit that we can train out of anything and train to most any standard in ambition and behavior. tougher to do, sexual behavior is harder to train out of then let's say smoking or drug and alcohol abuse and those sorts of things. in addition, society's message is regarding sexuality are not always clear consistent to the emerging adult and are students at the service academies come from the same culture. still training plus accountability as part of the apart. their point on demonstrating discipline, where the military is unique and particularly well-suited to the range of
sexually, because it has a unique range and disciplinary options. it gives opportunity to snuff out the precursor behavior and hold somebody accountable and send a message of accountability to survivors and observers besides the person himself who is sees the system against him. i'm sure as well though, that my experience isn't unique and having taken to trial in military courts. cases that civilian authorities would not pursue. last points on some fundamentals of the system and cut some cautions. it seems that one of the key questions that your tingling with is whether and how much to could trust commanders and their counsel to rightly exercise the considerable justice based instruments available to them. if you think commanders are unsuited by training, not being lawyers or prospective considering they may be self perspective. then you might want another
system or a great change to the current system. my sense is that commanders are pledged to care for and forced a good order and discipline in the uniting of command authority with discipline authority. leavened by the required inappropriate involvement of judge advocate along the way. it's appropriate to the requirements of the service in the expectations of command. so disassociating that authority would reduce accountability and not enhance discipline in general nor in the realm of sexual misconduct in particular. last point, defending soldiers in coaching and training defense counsel was the hardest and most rewarding work that i did in my career. i am also aware of the risks and unlawful command influence and believe like our appeal courts that there is such thing as command influence in the air. the participants in the system might be inclined to convict or educate harsher punishment based on a commanders title insurance.
to take care to preserve the integrity of the system for all participants. finally we should be cautious in seeking justice related metrics like convicte conviction rates,y provide some rates into the system but that should be the major indicator of success in combating sexual assault. thanks for the opportunity to be here. >> thank you colonel morris. colonel christiansen, was stunning to me about this report is that we see the increase in sexual start and transsexuals all go up a 50% and we see the incidence of retaliation being a factor in the unwillingness to report why in your estimation has the prevalence of result gone up so much? >> from my conversations with cadets at the academy, there is a perception among many that
senior leadership does not care. and as you see there is such a lack of accountability so for perpetrators, they understand that the odds of them ever being punished are almost 0. probably have a better chance of being struck by lightning. there is absolutely nothing to display those who would do it sexual assault from doing so. and then you have the problem of trust. in the women and men do not feel that they can come forward and report without them suffering more consequences than their perpetrators suffers, they won't come forward. i believe two weeks ago the air force academy finally got conviction of a cadet for penetrating another cadet without her consent. to get a hold whopping 75 days
of confinement of facing 30 years of confinement. so we have a process that doesn't deliver, and then after this happened from several sources at the academy, cadets who contacted me and said there's a rifted social media campaign shaming the victims. and that is the kind of stuff that has to stop. it has to be an acceptance from leadership that this is going on. i think one of the biggest problems is that leadership hears these numbers and that they truly do not internalize them as a problem. and i am not necessarily talking about superintendents, i'm talking about the people in between the superintendents in the cadets. i had an opportunity to meet with the vice commandant of cadets at the air force academy last year. i was representing a young cadet that they were talking about kicking out after she reported. and i asked him, have you ever
talked to a survivor when it was in an adversarial process. and he said i don't type that. and to me that was such the wrong answer because you will never know what survivors are going through and the only time you talk to them is when you are trying to kick them out of the institution. so i think that those people that are in the middle need to accept there is a problem and they need to be willing to ferret out and those were shaming victims. >> one of the issues that comes to my mind after you spent time with all the superintendents over the last few days, there is really a difference that exists in how they handle the cases. for instance, in some of the academies a victim can take a sabbatical. in others they cannot.
some may want to transfer to another academy and that hasn't been an opportunity made available to them. some have wanted to in some situations, there is going to be recruitmenrecoupment not just ae junior and senior level but at the freshman and sophomore level where a cadet is found to sexually assaulted. do you have any thoughts on whether it's time for us to make sure that all the academies follow a similar process in terms of the kinds of resources that are available to the victim survivors? >> absolutely. i think it is time for them to have a unified front. the cadets and midshipmen understand that they're going to be treated the same no matter where they're going to school. it's been a complex issue that they have taken individually versus and in a unified manner.
therefore, i don't think there is enough of an effort to see what's working at west point, is that going to work at annapolis, is that going to work at the air force academy ? i also -- one of the difficulties that we face in the military is we have what we call the uniformed military code of justice, and the uniform doesn't mean what were wearing it means that it's was to be the same. each service has their own way of doing things and often pull apart what is actually supposed to be uniform. i think it would be a great benefit for, especially in the academies, each one of them, focusing on how do we do that shortly. >> thank you. ranking member kelly. >> thank you again chairwoman spear. i'm of the view that we need to fully acknowledge the problem and we have a problem. i think we are doing that but we
need to get to work on fixing it immediately. mr. christiansen what are some of the specific things that the service academy are not doing that they should be doing to reduce sexual assault and sexual harassment, from your perspective? >> i think number one thing is trust. that trust results and reports. for example, the air force academy last year, they had 29 reports of sexual assault out of over 200 actual cases. of those 29, 20 of them are restricted reports. which for those who don't understand, they can be prosecuted. that means only nine people out of over 200 actually report. and what did that get? and finally got one conviction. i think that there is a definite value to training. i'm not anti- training i just don't think it's a panacea. i think one of the things is a prosecutor talking to the prosecutor, is acknowledge that prosecution is one way to deter
crime. prosecution is another way to send a message to survivors that we are going to take it seriously. the second thing i would say, is the problem across both active force in the academy's experience level of the people who are acting as investigators and acting as the prosecutors. the services have to commit to making sure that we have the most experienced and best people doing those jobs. we have a ton of talent in the military but they often give those.jobs really quickly. as a prosecutor, i think you would agree, that 90% of the cases won or lost before it reaches you, by the great work done by investigators, if they don't uncover what you need, it's kind of tough to finish it up at trial.
so we need to make sure that we have the best investigators possible. again this is a slam on the people are doing it. they're very dedicated and hard-working but they don't stay in those positions long enough to become the experts it should be. >> thank you very much. as a former commander whose administrator up to the brigade level in the former district attorney and is seen the inside of both the grand jury in a courtroom, i think that it's very important to look at how do we collect the facts, how do we get the evidence. because essay cases only as str. mr. moore she had the experience as a civilian in at the university. what is the difference between how civilian universities handle assault versus service academies and are there any best practices that civilian universities are using that we can adopt? [inaudible] the similarity is in prevention
and education in the great difference is an adjudication. so i don't think there is much difference in the way you have to smother you student population with information about sexual assault in about prevention and about dignity and respect and all those factors that contribute to somebody's behavior. as i mentioned before you're taking a product of society and to some degree in reorienting those individuals. in the adjudicative process, a great difference, under title ix of course there is the expectation produced by the obama administration in 2011, that essentially set up amateur informal court systems. they have proved to be really tough to manage. all coming from the right impulse of attacking this behavior and having a system that has enough good credibility that it cares for the survivor and sends a message to the other
student that this process has the possibility of bringing about justice and it stings enough to crack that person's behavior, hold that person accountable and he tear others. the difficulty is you are allowed to counsel there but they can't speak. there is not direct cross-examination, all the things that are limited because they are just, they are created and kind of cooked under the universities process. so the contrast is the military system of course has that full range of administration and nonjudicial option and corrective training and all that available to it, besides the cases that are appropriate to get to a court-martial. >> i agree with mr. christiansen that training alone, we just can't train herself out of this
crisis. but i'm at a loss to see how removing the commander and authority of a commander which has many more tools than i can tell you as a former district attorney and a prosecutor has many more than a just a prosecution side. i'm at a loss to see you know anyway mr. morris in which removing a commander from sexual salt process improves the situation. >> i think were the impulses coming from because it comes from a point of frustration in dealing that we are many years into this and haven't been able to crack it. while understanding that we want to go more in the other direction to hold commanders more accountable, to be more demanding more from on those leaders to turn this around and to use all of the levers that are available to them. to the removal of them then makes them less accountable and this incentivizes them as
opposed to providing the appropriate pressure that the system can. >> my final question two women spear, this is really important, meeting with the service academy attendance of the last week, one of the things that senior dod officials, one of the things that is apparent, you have dual competing chains of leadership of leaders. one the superintendents and all the cattle rights that are professional and conduct themselves in a way. and then you have the pure change chain of command. having three children of my own i understand sometimes the. pressure can be greater than parental or teacher pressure. and so what can we do to reduce the amount of. pressure so they feel comfortable among their peers reporting and also feel the. pressure to keep them from doing sexual soul or harassment. that is to mr. morris also i guess. >> one of the unhappy results of
this long-term struggle of institutes of higher education is that there's a pretty well understood set of best practices in terms of education and prevention. you can vary from school to school but there's an understanding of hitting them -- at our school you have to do some online training before you walk into class. the first day of school in august. then they have mandatory training all along the way, and then they industry calls booster shots at the age years so their perspective on the world change, or catching them again and trying to reinforce the right behavior. it is the sustained aspect of it more than anything else. >> thank you chairwoman. i yield back. >> thank you. >> thank you madame chairwoman. colonel christensen could you explain the difference between restricted and unrestricted reports?
>> tried be happy to, about 2004, 2005 timeframe, congress looks at the reporting problems and one of the problems was that many victims were looking for mental health treatment or medical treatment, talk to an attorney, talked to a chaplain or something. but when they did that, because we don't have medical privilege in the military, they would go to the er, say i was just raped, i just want treatment, i'm not looking for an investigation but they had to be reported. so congress said, we need to do something about that so they gave you an option of restricted reporting. to restricted reporting allows the survivor to go to mental health, go to medical, go to the saarc go to a victim advocate go to an attorney, go to the
chaplain, and get whatever services they believe that they need without starting a correspondent investigation. and unrestricted report if the military finds out in any other way that there is been a sexual salt by law that must result in an investigation and the investigation must be done by the investigative services, ncis, osi and so if the survivor told the commander that an unrestricted survivor tells a friend, if it survivor tells osi that unrestricted. >> but that victim also get services as well? >> yes, yes. >> so you just kind of said -- can go through that again? who are mandatory reports ? if the victim comes to an individual at the academy or even the military, who is required to report that sexual salt?
>> anybody other than -- anybody who is wearing a uniform. other than the saarc, the victim advocate, an attorney, such as special victim's attorney, medical, mental health, chaplain. so they tell anyone else it's a mandatory report. >> according to this report in your statement, 92% of the victims are choosing to do a restricted report rather than to go and tell somebody who would have to then reported question. >> actually 92% aren't telling ..... ......
>> colonel morris, your experience at a university, if somebody came to an individual or a doctor there at the university with that doctor, physician, counselor be required to report that assault? >> they would not. only under the narrow areas in the law where there's mandatory reporting. of course, that's mainly a minor. >> okay. one of the problems i see -- i understand the concern of the victim. we want to take care of the victim and have their privacy. if they are continuing to increase where they don't feel comfortable with a reported and it's going to be people -- are going to go and be held accountable for their actions, were in the situation now, like you said, were sexual harassers, people commit sexual assault are going out into the military service now more or less may be with the opportunity to do it again. and commit that crime again. what recommendation would you
have to get around this. to where we can go to make the victim feel comfortable where they can do and unrestricted report? >> number one, understand what it survivor is going to. somebody who has sexually assaulted is usually suffering from ptsd. ptsd is going to affect their ability to succeed a lot of times, it can result in minor misconduct, it can also result in counterintuitive behavior. and destructive behavior. but we see too often that the academy turn a natural and pulls from being a survivor into a reason to kick you out. that's the message that's being sent. the second thing i would say, making sure survivors understand that if they choose to want to
pursue justice through court-martial, that that is something that the evidence is there, it's going to be taken seriously and done. i think commanders have a role regardless of who makes the ultimate decision to prosecute. i think that the person takes ultimate decision to prosecute should be a very experienced season jagged, not commander. what is easily understood is that within the military, their 14000 or so commanders. there only about 400 of them that have general court-martial convening authority. and only about 140 of them actually use it. so commanders role every day become short of prosecution. and when we talk about nonjudicial punishment, we talk about administrative actions, the colonel morris talked about, those all still exist. but it survivor has have faith. there is a survey done by the
iraq, afghanistan veterans of america. it was then a couple weeks ago. and they asked thousands of veterans and active-duty members, would you be more likely to report if the prosecutor made the decision in a community? over 50% said yes. only 3% said no. i think professionalizing the justice system will go a long way in doing that. >> thank you your time is expired. >> thank you madame chair. as a medical doctor, i can tell you takes extreme courage when you're an assault victim and survivor to step out of the shadows and tell your story. this question is for both of you. i do believe the academies are trying to work this out, find the right solution. specifically, for both of you, what programs have you seen that work? what programs would you change to help allow that survivor,
that victim to step out? >> i don't have a program as such to recommend. i have watch programs now, in turn, particularly when i served at west point and then watching it in the civilian world. the greatest thing is to make no assumption about the experience or perspective of these 17, 18 and 19 -year-olds as they come to the door. and to work from a standpoint of humility on information that they would need to make right decisions. we have a little more freedom at a private catholic school to fully bring out issues of how those choices are made and framed. the biggest thing is ha to havea
plan that isn't perceived by the student as an obstacle tory burst of that stuff. and then they don't hear about it again or there's a display or something later in the year. it is a prepared planned out sustained program that grows as a student works its way through the school. it's the greatest part. and you don't lose them. they have a sense that they must take this seriously. there talk about this again. >> so continuing education? >> certainly. >> the only comments ? >> this isn't unique to the academy, but i think one of the most important things that has been done -- this is going to result, the congress was the creation of the special victim's counsel. i think that's the most ground changing legislation that is been passed concerning military justice. it is a game changer for survivors because they have somebody in the corner.
beyond that, i'll give credit, he speaks passionately. i think those words need to be heard. one of the problems with command being in charge is the general speaks to passionately, speaks critically of certain processes or of any of the superintendents do. as colonel morris writes, that creates perception of the unlawful command influence. it's one additional reason i think commanders need to be free to be advocates for change without having the burden that if they talk to too much as a commander, too much as somebody says this is unacceptable, that it creates unlawful command question. >> the second question, but to both of you, the way i've understand it, most of the rio italia is from the peers. what can we do to prevent that? >> i don't have a particular perspective on that other than
in my prep for this that really struck me that there seems to be a substantial amount of that. plus you see the great contrast in the statistics between the cadet trust of their peers in the cadet trust of their leaders. more or less 80% and then the no the 40% and 50% of their peers. how do we direct things, the peers always have the greatest influence and then the academies for so because there's much pollution and how you live. just looking at it as somebody once served there and looking at the new data, if i were to look at where to concentrate it would be on building the trust and changing whatever makes the
peers not a trusted source of support and encouragement and deterrence. >> you, chris maximo i would say that there needs to be greater attention to social media and the impact of social media on shaming victims. from the clients that i talked to that's a huge problem, the social media bullying. i know that's necessarily not easy for the academy to follow, but i think they should make efforts to see what's going. and then when they see that that is happening for example, people shaming the victims in that case last week, that they need to speak out about leadership. >> for the new members let me point out when the pleats come to the academy, they are overseen by the cedar leadership of the institution. as a particularly into the software and junior years, they are overseen by senior leaders within the actual military academy were also cadets. so it's cadet leadership that is
overseeing sophomores, juniors and seniors for that matter. we will now go to ms. holland. >> thank you madame chair. thank you both for being here today. what roles and responsibilities do senior academy leaders have for preventing and responding to sexual assault and sexual harassment and military academies. second, how do you believe senior leader should be held accountable for continued increase rates at those academies? >> i think the role is a central focus of each academy, what can the superintendent do. they are the voice for those who
haven't served in the military -- many of you have, when you're cadet, people like general and others are god's. their words matter. so being that vocal person, holding people accountable, whether it's people on the staff who are retaliating, holding cadets accountable who retaliate, i think retaliation is one of the huge problems that they really need to tackle. your second question ? >> excuse me, how do you believe senior leaders should be held accountable for continued increase in rates? >> i say this mindful that they are sitting next to me, i would say that there are certain times we need to let people go, move them on, if they are getting the job done. there seems to be institutionally now in the military a reluctance to hold senior leaders accountable. general eisenhower fired half of general eisenhower fired half of captioning performed by vitac
>> i agree and how much to add other than the superintendents >> and i agree and don't have much to add other than the superintendents are just phenomenal phenomenally in charge of those institutions, even in some ways greater than a division commander or some equivalent in the field. so they are able to marshall all of that authority and prominence in constructive ways. when i was the staff judge advocate of west point one of the things our superintendent did was went to a lot of women's sports games more than he went to men's, just as one micro piece of making clear that we
really all are part of the same team, but it then requires at times to leverage that prominence and power to potentially be unpopular by being just inflexible on matters like sexuality in particular and driving home in all of the ways you can with those at peer and near peer levels. and accountability, same thing. you know, the traditional army military methods of holding senior leaders accountable is appropriate. >> thank you so much. madam chair, i yield my time. >> thank you. mr. bergman? >> thank you, madam chair. thanks to both you, colonel christensen and colonel morris for your decades of service because as szas and legal advice to commanders, good commanders rely on you for good sage advice
to make wise decisions on behalf of whatever unit they are in command of. that's not easy and it's not exact. colonel christensen, you mentioned you used statistics comparing academy to active duty. did your active duty stats also include a breakdown of officer and enlisted? >> it does, although i could not off the top of my head tell you what it does -- what those are. obviously in the active force crime rates are higher among the young population -- >> the point is you enter the academy at the age of roughly 18. >> right. >> coming out of high school. there is a pretty good chance you're going to enter the enlisted ranks at the age of 18 or fairly close. >> correct. >> and if you are going into an officer program, you know, you're going to enter as you
become an officer it's going to be -- you're going to be 22, 23. okay. mr. christensen, in your testimony you've said that congress needs to either, quote, empower military prosecutors to lead the process and decide whether to prosecute cases, or, if necessary, turn over all academy cases to the relevant civilian justice systems, end quote. however, back when you were on active duty you successfully prosecuted many cases that civilian jurisdictions simply refused to. my understanding is that the services still prosecute sex-related offenses that would never be taken to trial by civilian prosecutors. what is the basis, then, for believing at this point that the civilian system would be better? >> well, yes, i have prosecuted many cases and i have prosecuted cases that were declined by
civilian systems. i think what to remember, too, is that there are cases being prosecuted right now in the civilian system that the military would not have prosecuted. >> what precipitated the change? because you were on one side and you were successful. is there some tool, whatever, that you used for the folks on your team used to successfully do these that no longer exists in the military side? >> there's no tool that's the difference, but what we're looking at is a systemic failure at the academies and i did mention those specific circumstances -- >> so what i hear you saying, then, is that we have a long-term systemic failure that has now fallen outside the realm of the service's ability or in this case the academy's ability to utilize the ucmj effectively? >> well, it's clearly not being used effectively if you only have four convictions. there were about 70 actual reports that were unrestricted,
only four resulted in a conviction. that tells me that we are not doing a good job of that. >> what's changed? >> what's changed since when? >> well, that caused the change. >> i'm sorry -- >> well, if you were successful but now we're not being successful what's changed? >> i can arrogantly say i'm not there anymore. >> okay. that's a fair assessment. any good commander has great faith in their own ability. >> that's not the case. >> before we run out -- because my time is -- mr. morris, do you have any comments on that particular situation? >> on the issue of -- >> of basically transitioning the cases to civilian as opposed to under -- you know, us the ucmj as we would do it now? >> i do, just because i have thought about it a lot and the thing that all of us scud and argued about among ourselves as we worked our way through the system from both sides. so i have a pretty strong sense that a system that reinforces
the authority of commanders in military justice is appropriate to the expectations we have of commanders. that you have to unite the responsibility -- you know, the comprehensive responsibility that a commander has for his or her people is like nothing else in society. so extract the ability to bring discipline from that makes that commander less effective and it's not to say all commanders are the perfect fonts of wisdom, it's not a solitary undertaking, it's understood to be in most respects with the counsel of a judge advocate and the rules for a court shar shall are required, that a judge advocate certify that there's sufficient evidence to go forward in a case to begin with. >> my time is expired. i yield back. >> thank you. ms. davis. >> thank you very much, madam chair, and that you for being here as well. i know we were working on these issues for many, many years and
rather than go back and review some of that there are a few more specific questions i had. one is, colonel christensen, you mentioned that one of the good stories out of this is the special victims advocate and i would agree with that, i think that we've at least had good reports coming back from time to time that the training and the ability to actually testify on behalf of a victim was very -- made a big difference really in the way that the victim was seen, i think, and understood. do you feel that that's so in the academies, that the role of that special victims counsel is one that you see reflected even for active duty the same, or is there a difference? >> i think they're probably similar. going back to what i talked about before, though, what i see is a lack of experience. special victims counsel, all the
ones i've dealt with, are very dedicated, fighting very hard for the clients, but for many of them the first one they ever talk to is when they are a special victims counsel, they never talked to one before. i can't specifically speak to all the special victims counsels and vlcs at all three institutions, but the ones i deal with are trying, but what i have seen of my experience with them is that mistakes made by a lack of experience that have resulted in less justice than i think could have been. >> okay. thank you. i wanted to double-check with that. and, colonel morris, i know that you've had that regular university experience, it is a catholic university, perhaps there are some different expectations there as well, but could you speak to really the differences that you see because we would think it would be cultural perhaps.
i'm particularly concerned that as sophomores there is a difference at the academies in the rate of reporting that we've seen. one could suggest that perhaps the pressure on students is different as freshmen, as sophomores there is a little bit more freedom. what do you think is different because i'm wondering whether -- if you were to look at all that goes on in the academies, is there any difference, you think, between the pressure that young people are under? we know that it's tough, academically it's tough, socially it's tough, physically it's tough. i mean, there are differences and how do you compare that to university? >> i think no doubt there is an intensity at the academies that there isn't an equivalent to in many civilian universities.
the harder question out of that is, then, what out of that entire package of, you know, heavy regimentation, you know, literal regimentation on so many parts of your life, is there any correlation between all of that and what looks to be some reluctance or some lack of confidence to report? does it relate to how we're running the academy? does it relate to always being in the minority? no matter how high the numbers are you have three quarters, 80%, 20% split. when you are looking at the peer relationships which seems to be such an ongoing concern, it's both with the men but also with other women and are there aspects of even energizing that subpopulation of upper class women to help to fix that -- >> do you see any reluctance to take a look at that on the part of the academies, on the part of
others who deal with this issue? i mean, how central is it? i'm not suggesting that that alone is something that we need to be aware of, but i'm just raising that question as we look at those statistics, you know, it is interesting to note the difference between freshmen and sophomores and going on to juniors. so perhaps that's something that -- and i hope our superintendents are going to address that in a little while, but my time is running out. any last minute thought about that? >> i'm outside my competence on current academy operations. >> okay. >> but, you know, we have looked at -- we had for a while a declining order of confidence as people got to be -- as women got to be juniors and seniors. we expected it to be otherwise and what it reflected at that time was they had kind of a legacy perspective of a not very strong reporting culture and then we saw that change with the next wave who worked through,
which just reinforced the idea that a continued drum beat then we ended up with juniors and seniors previously with less faith than increasing the faith through all four years -- increasing their trust in the system through those four years. >> okay. thank you. i think my time is up. >> your time is expired. i would say, ms. davis, that one of the things we should look at, though, with the special victims counsel is how they are being utilized because with one of the victims that i spoke with she only ever talked to her special victims counsel by phone. so we might want to evaluate the actual exchanges that take place and whether we need more resources there. ms. cheney, you're next. >> thank you very much, madam chairwoman and thank you for holding this important hearing. i commend you and our witnesses for being here today. this is an incredibly difficult set of issues that both of our witnesses i think have pointed to the fact that it's something
we're dealing with across the nation, certainly our service academies, but at probably every single institute of higher learning and looking for ways that we can address the issue, that we can effectively address the issue and that we can reduce the numbers as a priority for every one of us. i wanted to ask a couple of questions. colonel christensen, you began talking about the issue of restricted reporting versus unrestricted reporting and it sounded to me like you were saying that the numbers in terms of cases that are brought to prosecution are clearly affected by the fact that some of the reports are restricted. can you address that and i think we all share the view that it's very important for victims to be able to get help and support without telling them they must absolutely go public, but it sounded to me like you were suggesting that the restricted reporting is some sort of a difficulty or a challenge. >> yes, as a prosecutor you are frustrated by restrict report because you know that there is a
crime out there that you can't address. it's not without controversy, restricted reporting versus unrestricted. >> but are you advocating changing that? >> no. no. >> thank you. >> and the reason i'm not is because for survivors they tell us it's very important. >> exactly. thank you. i appreciate that. and then one of the topics that we haven't addressed yet and i'd like to hear both of the witnesses perspective on this is the issue of alcohol. i think any conversation about sexual harassment, sexual assault, on college campuses including the service academies has to get into this issue of alcohol. i'd be interested to hear both of your perspectives on what we can better do at our academies on that issue in particular as it relates to these set of attacks. >> yeah, i think that's a great question, representative cheney. obviously alcohol is a factor. i think it's too easy to look at as a panacea, if we get ready of
alcohol it goes away. >> there's certainly no pan see i can't. >> i think at the academy it's particularly important because we are talking about a college atmosphere and i think that's where a lot of this responsibility goes on the senior at these academies who are at the legal drinking age to ensure they are setting the right example. for example, i have talked to academy grads who said, yeah, i remember when i was a first year being ordered by the senior to find alcohol for him and my job was to bring him a case of alcohol. you know, you were supposed to leave it in the staircase. okay. that's something that neets to be rooted out. you can't have a culture that allows that. getting at alcohol clearly is something that reduces a risk factor for sexual assault. >> thank you. colonel morris? >> i think you can't emphasize that enough. alcohol plus youth plus first time unsupervised, there is a
giant correlation and i think an indisputable one. it's both the formal stuff, how do you keep it away, the informal of managing it even if a person is going to drink and letting other things go on. there needs to be a discussion at west point when the first club would close and the seniors would stream their way back to the barracks, no the all of them sober. while we always talk about the harder right. is the harder right some serious crackdown that makes clear to those peer leaders that you don't take the guys to new york city to drink under age, but you really do step up and provide an example, you know, an unpopular constructive example that has an impact on things like the rates of assault that you see. >> thank you. and i think, again, i'm sure all of us on this panel agree that we need to do better across the board. but i'd like, colonel christensen, to get your perspective on as we're looking for ways to do better and to improve the system and we look
at what's going on in the civilian world and we are looking at the possibility of removing these cases from the command authority, is there anything that you see in the civilian world particularly on our college campuses that would make you think that would somehow be more effective? >> no, and we've had -- we have a good relationship with the mpd here in washington, but of course -- of course there is a reluctance to try the marginal case in the military and i'm generalizing from my experience, not just my personal one but my time serving, is much more willing to try the close case, willing to take a chance and lose the close case for the collateral benefit of serious solidarity with the victim and a person knowing you are still brought through the court-martial process even if you escape not convicted, you have exercised the process in a way that has an impact on those who observe it and not just the
principals involved in that case. >> thank you very much. my time is expired. >> there's ten minutes left and we are going to continue until about five minutes before because we want to try to finish this panel before we bring the superintendents in. ms. luria. >> okay. thank you very much for being here today and talking about this important issue. i just wanted to quote back colonel morris, a comment that you made in your opening remarks that you were not an expert in looking at the data and i just wanted to know from my review of the data that there seemed to be some sharp disparities in the data. it seems that the number of women that the academies over time we just passed the 40-year mark of having women at the academies, i'm a graduate from approximately 20 years ago. are we normalizing this data at all as the number of women in service academies grows? based off of the number of women and the population at the service academies? >> i can't answer that.
>> okay. and there was reference by both of you early on in your remarks that we've seen a 50% increase over the last year and i'm looking at the data and i'm looking at, you know, first the number of reports for west month for the military academy went from 43 to 48 reports and then the way that it is estimated, so this is the blue dots on the chart, cadets estimated to have experienced unwanted sexual contact based on the survey prevalence rates, the best i can tell is that this is an extrapolation from the number of reports to correlate to the number of incidents that happened. if you look at that from the '15, '16 academic near to the '17, '18 at the military academy, for example, it looks as though this jump from 129 to 273 which is an alarming amount, however, if you're basing it off the number of reports which more than doubled themselves, could this not indicate that we have an improved reporting rate
versus an increased number of actual incidents? it's very unclear the way the methodology of the report is written and analyzing the data, you know, how such a significant jump can take place in that two-year period. to discount the fact that actually reporting has gone up because reading the comments of what the superintendents at each academy has done, it actually shows that they have taken a lot of creative measures to improve reporting and i did have the opportunity to sit down with the superintendent from the naval academy earlier this week and just the simple effect of having moved the location of the person that you go report to to a more out of the way spot that was not as visible, you know, when midshipmen wanted to go report had a significant impact on their willingness to report and what they felt to be a more confidential way. and also during the earlier remarks i heard you say that senior leaders trust -- trust in senior leadership that people would report was an issue and i
read the report and i was actually quite pleased that at the military academy it says 85%, at the naval academy 76% and at the air force academy 80% have confidence that their leadership is taking correct action in order to prevent these types of incidents. so, you know, i'm hearing one tone in your remarks, but that's not matching the data that's indicated here. can you explain the difference? >> so first on the data you just talked about, so what i broke that down to was the women. so the overall academy rate might be 80%, but at west point -- excuse me, at annapolis and at colorado springs what you see is among women who have the higher sexual assault rate. their at faction rate or confidence rate was about 60 -- excuse me, 70%.
so you can say, wow, that's great, 70% think you're doing good. when i was chief prosecutor and had 20 prosecutors working for me, a third of my prosecutors thought i wasn't doing a good job i would think i was failing. i don't think those are really good numbers. you know, glass half full, glass half empty. >> i think that i understand your point on that topic. that we disagree on the numbers of confidence that we're reporting back from the midshipmen and there is a difference based off of gender, which, you know, could be expected based off of people interpreting the question differently or having had different life experiences. colonel morris, you also said, quote/unquote, i'm outside my competence in current academy operations. i'm curious as to when the last time is you visited the academies and spoke to leadership there at the midshipmen leadership order, the brigade officer level or superintendent or commandant level to have an assessment from their perspective on the effectiveness of these issues
that they're implementing. >> none at all. no formal contact. i've been up there -- >> thank you. i yield the balance of my time. >> there's six minutes left in the vote. ms. strahan, you can go ahead if you would like or we can -- no, go right ahead. >> thank you. thank you so much for your service and thanks for being here today. the survey indicates that there are far more instances of unwanted sexual contact than there are actual reports, restricted or otherwise. as you noted it does seem clear that accountability must be clear and consistent to make real change. men and women must feel as though they will be safe and the perpetrators dealt justice if they are going to come out of the shadows, but you spoke about training being a constant over the years while sexual assault numbers continued to rise. i'm curious to understand if you
see any merit in the training programs as they are designed today and what other steps we should be taking. >> sure. i'm not an expert on training. i have sat through many of the trainings. i do think trainings have important part of this. i think it brings awareness to issues, it makes people see things in a different way. i leave it to what i believe are very dedicated experts in the sapra programs to develop that training. i'm not critical of the drink, i'm just saying it's not going to end what we're doing. so i think the right mix of training, how that is done, is left to the experts, which i'm not an expert on the training. as far as, you know, accountability and where we are and things like that, you know, going back to the question earlier about what's changed, well, when we talk about accountability at the academies it's never been good. you know, in the 2003 crisis at
the air force academy, i believe there were like 139 women who said they were sexual assaulted and zero had a prosecution out of it. so when we are talking about differences it's just a decades long problem that hasn't changed and the question is how many times are you going to say, well, we're going to change the program and we will get a different result. >> i guess my only other question in terms of, you know, culture often reinforces training. what cultural factors at the service academies are at play in allowing these crimes to continue? >> i think one of the cultures we have talked about is alcohol, i think another culture is there is definitely perception, there is a different accountability level for athletes than there are for the rank and file members. there was a west point -- i think it's the starting quarterback for west point who had alcohol violations, allegations of sexual assault
and, you know, he led west point to game over -- a victory over navy. i know that's a big deal for them. navy -- army, excuse me, failed to tout his virtues as a cadet. he had some pretty serious misconduct in his background and so when you look at victims who are being forced out because of what is really minor misconduct, for them it's very difficult to understand why there's this cultural divide. >> great. thank you. i yield back. >> thank you. ms. escobar there's still about 250 to 300 votes that have not been recorded so we still have time so please go. >> madam chairwoman, thank you so much for having this hearing. this is such an important topic. gentlemen, thank you for your testimony here today. you know, the military obviously is a very different institution
than any other institution, but are there other male-dominated institutions that could offer some best practices? i know, you know, training, you mentioned we are not going to get ourselves out of this through training, but are there some best practices that have not yet been embraced, adopted, utilized as a way to try to attack the problem? >> if i were the superintendents i would have terry cruz at my academies next week. they need to hear a voice from somebody like him. he comes from the sports and entertainment industry, he has been a survivor. what an amazing human being. i think the most important thing for people to hear is actual voices of survivors and the difficulty is it's very difficult for cadets to stand up and talk to the cadet wing because of what they go through, but if you can bring in somebody who has instant credibility and
if terry cruz can be sexual assaulted anybody in the world can be sexual assaulted. so that leaders like him who can speak powerfully to the issue. >> nothing to add other than once you have a sense of a program in place, leave it in place long in you have to evaluate t there's always a lagging indicator from any kind of training and any kind of consciousness raising on most any behavior. the military saw it and attacked it with unusual success with drugs and alcohol and fitness and other things. sex is harder to do anyway, it's not just subject to sort of the solitary self-discipline that some of those other behaviors relate to, but there's no lack of really excellent programs that have worked at places, but put it in place, have a set of reliable metrics and monitors and then let it work long enough
that you know you are evaluating a system that has given you replicable results. >> you know, the other aspect that was mentioned earlier that's very troubling is the social media bullying that happens as part of the retaliation and that's something that is obviously prevalent, you know, in every aspect of our lives. i mean, you know, kids, middle school kids, deal with a lot of that in a way that my generation never did. my children have had to deal with that in a way that my generation never did, but one of the things that i tried to teach my kids was about being witnesses. when they witness something, when they sense something, you know, about being an advocate and many times that's -- that's very, very difficult because then the advocate himself or herself faces the same retaliation or similar or sometimes maybe even worse
retaliation, but is that a component of the training so that, you know, individuals who are witnesses either through what's happening on social media or witnesses to retaliation or bullying that they have an obligation to stand up and, you know, show that strong moral character to speak out and act out. >> absolutely. and to the academy credit, all academies, i think they have emphasized very strongly bystander training and the importance of bystander intervention. the surveys indicate that to self-report of people who are bystanders that they do become involved. obviously a lot of sexual assault doesn't occur in front of somebody else, if it did it would make it easier to prosecute. yes, i think stepping in -- >> but the retaliation sometimes is -- many times is not in secret, especially on social media. >> right. right. and then they have to feel comfortable that when they come
forward to leadership, say, i saw this boss, i saw this on whatever social media site, this is what they're saying about cadet so-and-so, and bring that to them. i don't know if they have that confidence level. >> anything to add? >> same thing. social media has been a big and recent part of the emphasis because both of the chatter as well as the sharing of images and that kind of stuff, and then bystanders, same thing, it seems to be one of the most tried and true. with he show movies about accidentally spilling a drink on somebody to just break the situation so the students then talk about that and realize that's appropriate to them and a legitimate expectation of them as a fellow student. >> all right. your time is expired. we're going to thank both colonel christensen and colonel morris for their participation. we're going to take about a half hour break so everyone can go vote and then we will be joined by the director of the