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Attention Airmen: Air Force holds sexual assault offenders accountable, posts convictions online

Col. Tom Miller, 377th Air Base Wing Commander

Col. Tom Miller, 377th Air Base Wing Commander

KIRTLAND AIR FORCE BASE, N.M. -- It is important to know that the Air Force now publishes sexual assault convictions online. I encourage everyone to go to http://www.afjag.af.mil/sexualassaultprosecution/index.asp and review, sorted by base, more than 100 Air Force sexual assault convictions over the last three years.

After reviewing the facts, you'll see many similarities among the cases: 1) the use of alcohol, 2) the absence of personal respect for the victim, and 3) the absence of the victims' consent. You will also see that Airmen who are convicted of sexual assault can be held accountable under the Uniform Code of Military Justice by military judges and court-martial panels, with punishments that often include jail time, rank reductions, and punitive discharges.

Airmen, supervisors and commanders should review the site. The data there can serve to educate and warn fellow Airmen about the consequences of committing these crimes.
A number of these cases involve Airmen who were assaulted by fellow Airmen. Many times, these victims were co-workers and former friends - people who trusted their assailant. The offenders elected to violate that trust, and were punished accordingly. In addition to the punishment received, as required by many state laws, convicted Airmen must also register in their jurisdiction's sexual assault registry. These sex offender lists include the names and addresses of convicted sex offenders, and are publicly available online.

Under the UCMJ, the Air Force uses due process of law. Airmen accused of crimes, including sexual assault, are entitled to legal defense and a fair hearing of the facts. The Air Force expects each military justice case, including sexual assault cases, to be resolved on its individual facts and merits. As a result of this process, in the last 12 months at Kirtland, three Airmen have been tried by court-martial in sexual assault cases, with two being convicted and one acquitted.

On Nov. 9, 2012, in the case of U.S. v. Airman 1st Class Corey Hudgins, 58th Maintenance Squadron, a General Court Martial found Hudgins guilty of three specifications of rape, one specification of sodomy, and one specification of battery. The allegations involved two victims. Hudgins was sentenced to 11 years in confinement, a dishonorable discharge, and a reprimand.

On Nov. 14, 2013, a General Court Martial found Airman 1st Class Willie Curry, 58th Special Operations Wing, guilty of one specification of rape, one specification of failure to obey (underage drinking), and one specification of assault. He was found not guilty of one specification of sodomy and one specification of burglary. For the guilty allegations, he was sentenced to 10 years confinement, a dishonorable discharge, reduction to E-1, and total forfeitures of pay and allowances.

It should be perfectly clear to everyone that the Air Force cannot and will not tolerate assault of any kind on Airmen, particularly sexual assault. In our culture of mutual respect, Airmen are teammates and wingmen - we look out for and take care of each other.

The Air Force takes this issue seriously, and has implemented a new policy to address it. As of August, Airmen who commit a sexual assault will face administrative discharge proceedings. This requirement may be waived only if Airmen meet a stringent six-part retention criterion, as outlined in Air Force Instruction 36-3208. The Airman must prove that he or she meets the retention requirements and that retention in the Air Force is warranted. Ultimately, it will be up to the convening authority to approve a waiver to this policy to retain the Airman.

We must be mindful that the effects of a sexual assault last a lifetime - so be there for others. If you see a situation that isn't right, intervene! You will regret being a passive bystander when a few words of intervention or your actions could have positively changed the lives of Airmen around you.

When we committed to defending our country, we knew it would require courage to serve. Courage is needed in many forms - sometimes it is in the form of intervening on someone's behalf to stop a situation before it has a tragic ending.