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Military Rape Class Action Lawsuit 
By Matt O’Donnell

Department of DefenseThe Pentagon has been hit with a class action lawsuit for failing to protect service members from rape and sexual assault in the military.


Fifteen women and two men who were victims of rape while serving in the military filed the class action lawsuit in the Eastern District of Northern Virginia. According to the lawsuit, Secretaries of Defense Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates “failed to investigate rapes and sexual assaults, failed to prosecute perpetrators, failed to provide an adequate judicial system as required by the Uniform Military Justice Act and failed to abide by Congressionally-ordered institutional reforms to stop rape cases and other sexual assaults.”


The class action lawsuit further charges the Department of Defense with running “institutions in which perpetrators were promoted and where military personnel openly mocked and flouted the modest Congressionally-mandated institutional reforms…victims were openly subjected to retaliation, encouraged to refrain from reporting rapes and sexual assaults in a manner that would have permitted prosecution and ordered to keep quiet and not tell anyone about the criminal acts of their work colleagues.”


In its 2009 Annual Report on Sexual Assaults in the Military, the Department of Defense estimated that “only 20 percent of service members who experience ‘unwanted sexual contact’ report the matter to a military authority” because of the military’s hostile environment for reporting rapes or sexual assaults.


The Department of Defense class action contends that considering DOD’s admission in the 2009 report, the more accurate numbers of rape and sexual assault in 2009 would have increased from 3,230 to 16,150.


The 2009 report also acknowledged that retaliation against service members who report rape, sexual assault and sexual harassment is widespread, and that many military personnel do not report these offenses because doing so is perceived as having “lasting career and security clearance repercussions.”


The class action lawsuit was filed in an attempt to force the Pentagon to change how it handles such cases. 


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Updated February 21st, 2010


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  • Anonymous March 6, 2011

    Military Rape Class Action Lawsuit
    It’s time for change!!!! I hope this lawsuit gets the attention of the people needed to implement and enforce action against military predators. Sexual harassment/sexual assault/abuse has been happening for a long time. I was in the military in 1978-1986 and suffered all of the above during my entire enlistment from people who outranked me, were in my change of command or fellow soldiers and nothing was done. Unfortunately I had to give up my career because of these actions and could not find an attorney who would go up against the military at the time of my separation. It is way past time for the guilty individuals to have to pay for their crimes.

  • maurice wynn January 17, 2014

    My father was a naval officer. My mother was a active enlisted Navy person when she was raped by the navy officer. I was born at the Bethesda Naval Hospital. After my birth, my mother was given a honorable discharge. And my life began in a hell with no father, no financial support, no family, and a sick mother. How can I describe the life of a child born to a military rape victim. Any help or support welcome

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