- The Washington Times - Friday, February 28, 2003

DENVER, Feb. 28 (UPI) — Rape counselors outside the Air Force Academy have received 22 reports of sexual assaults from women cadets over the past 15 years, the Denver Post reported Friday.

Counselors at a rape-crisis center in Colorado Springs said the victims sought outside help because they feared retaliation at the academy. In almost all the cases the rapists were not prosecuted.

It was unclear if some of the reported sexual assaults might be among 20 reported in the past week to the office of Sen. Wayne Allard, R-Colo., who is pushing two separate investigations into the growing scandal at the academy.

Allard may push for a congressional investigation into allegations that the assaults were not properly investigated and the women cadets were intimidated for trying reporting the assaults.

The Post's report of 22 calls to outside counselors came only a day after Air Force Secretary James Roche addressed the scandal directly in an address to about 1,000 cadets at the academy in Colorado Springs.

"The conduct of some of our cadet population — albeit quite small — is not only morally reprehensible, it is criminal," he said in a speech to the academy's 10th annual Character and Leadership symposium.

"You guys need to clean this up and I'll give you all the help you need."

In a question and answer period, a female cadet told Roche she was concerned the public now views the male cadet population as "rapists and sodomists."

Roche said, "We are talking about a fringe element."

Several cadets expressed concern that the scandal involving a few cadets will tarnish the reputation of the academy.

A special team of Air Force investigators has been on the campus this week conducting interviews. They are expected to report to Roche by the middle of March.

At least 25 calls have been received on a special hotline opened Monday to receive more reports about alleged sexual assaults, according to the academy.

The counselors interviewed by the Post work for Trust Education Safety Support Action, a rape crisis center in Colorado Springs. Although their reports go back 15 years they have some from as recently as last year, they said.

"We've been talking about this for years, and how crimes are covered up, and how horrific it is for the women," said Jennifer Bier, director of clinical services for TESSA.

Bier and the other counselors said they would share their information with Allard.

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