An Air Force investigation into sexual misconduct at its basic-training operations has identified 31 women who have been victimized. Just as troubling, says the Washington Post in an editorial, is that only one of the women came forward to report the abuse, a startling fact that reflects the pervasive mistrust in the military's handling of sex crimes within its ranks.
It has been two decades since the Tailhook scandal focused attention on this issue; it's clear that much more must be done to fix a system that has allowed the mistreatment of women who serve their country. The widening scandal at Lackland Air Force Base in Texas, one of the busiest military training centers, centers on allegations that male instructors assaulted, harassed and had sex with — in one case, raped — female trainees. Of the military branches, the Air Force had been seen as the most accommodating to women. A major factor is how the system for prosecuting sex crimes has worked against the interests of victims. One area that clearly demands immediate attention, says the Post, is how the military punishes those accused or convicted of sex crimes. The Service Women's Action Network says 10 percent of accused sex offenders last year never were held accountable because they were allowed to resign. Even more startling is a finding that one in three convicted sex offenders was allowed to remain in the service.