- Associated Press - Friday, January 31, 2014

MONTPELIER, Vt. (AP) - Six reported sexual assaults occurred among Vermont National Guard members within the last fiscal year, according to a newly released report from the Guard.

Half of the cases incurred a military administrative investigation. One additional case incurred a civilian criminal investigation.

Cathleen Wilson of HOPE Works, a group that provides counseling services to sex assault victims, told WCAX-TV that the report presented to a House legislative committee on Thursday was the first time the number of victims of sexual assault has been made public. Wilson feared that other crimes have gone unreported and said military culture makes coming forward more difficult.

“Sexual assault, sexual harassment and discrimination based upon sexual orientation have no place in the Vermont National Guard. It’s an attack on the values we defend and the cohesion our units demand,” said Maj. Gen. Steven Cray, the adjutant general for the state of Vermont.

“That is really the key is to make sure that victims feel supported and safe coming forward, that this doesn’t inadvertently cause a culture of silence, because now the spotlight is on and people are watching. And so we certainly don’t want that to be a case for hushing it up,” Wilson said.

As of last May, the Vermont National Guard is compelled by law to provide an annual report on sex assault, gender discrimination and discrimination based on sexual orientation.

Copyright © 2016 The Washington Times, LLC.

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