Ogden woman one of 19 plaintiffs in Defense Dept. lawsuit

Sep 28 2012 - 6:17pm

An Ogden woman is among 19 plaintiffs in a federal lawsuit filed Friday against the U.S. Department of Defense alleging widespread rape and sexual assault in the service.

"The Army and Air Force has created a pervasive threat to the safety of service members, particularly young service members, by repeatedly failing to prosecute and incarcerate sexual predators," reads the suit filed in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of California.

The 19 plaintiffs include five men raped or sexually assaulted by superiors.

Sascha Garner had been in the U.S. Army Reserves stationed out of Ogden since January 2002 when she was raped in November 2009 while stationed in Kandahar, Afghanistan, according to the suit. She left the service 10 months later, cutting her military career short to escape the backlash from reporting her rape.

While the investigation of her attack progressed, she was forced to live in a tent with only one tent separating her from the tent her rapist inhabited.

The assailant was only charged with adultery, indecent acts and lying on an official form. Never incarcerated or discharged, his punishment was a fine and loss of rank.

Garner was threatened with disciplinary action for alcohol use, because the attack came while she was passed out in her own bed. No other members of her company were similarly threatened, although they also had been drinking.

According to the lawsuit, the Defense Department admits that an estimated 19,000 rapes and sexual assaults occur in the military each year, with only 20 percent reported.


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