How the Military’s ‘Bro’ Culture Turns Women Into Targets

.photo.right{display:none;}The sexual-assault epidemic plaguing the armed forces is rooted in a hypermasculine ethos that fosters predation.

Pinned: Williams was decorated in Iraq.
National Journal
Sara Sorcher
Sept. 5, 2013, 4:15 p.m.

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Kay­la Wil­li­ams, an Ar­ab­ic lin­guist, was the only wo­man with a group of about 20 troops pos­ted to Ir­aq’s Sin­jar Moun­tain in 2003, and she was al­most one of the boys. To kill time while off-duty, the men pre­ten­ded to hump everything in sight, in­clud­ing the Hum­vee, dur­ing their re­l­at­ively un­su­per­vised patrol. They put their testicles on one an­oth­er’s faces in a prac­tice called “tea bag­ging.” Their be­ha­vi­or was ri­dicu­lous but com­mon among bros de­ployed in dan­ger­ous, re­mote loc­a­tions. Some­times, the men in­cluded Wil­li­ams when they threw pebbles at each oth­er, aim­ing for holes near the crotches of their pants. “[They star­ted] throw­ing rocks at my boobs when they were throw­ing rocks at each oth­er,” Wil­li­ams re­calls. “Is that sexu­al har­ass­ment, or are they treat­ing me like one of them? Is it ex­clus­ive or in­clus­ive? I can’t an­swer that. It’s com­plic­ated.” But she didn’t let it both­er her too much.

Then one night, while mon­it­or­ing the out­post on the side of a moun­tain, Wil­li­ams went to re­lieve a guard on duty. He grabbed her hand. “He had pulled out his penis and was try­ing to put my hand on his cock,” Wil­li­ams says. She wasn’t quite wor­ried she’d be raped — the ju­ni­or en­lis­ted Army sol­dier, then 26 years old, was car­ry­ing a gun with­in earshot of oth­ers who would hear her if she screamed — but the guard was fright­en­ingly ag­gress­ive. After try­ing to get her to sleep with him, or at least give him a blow job, he gave up and left.

Still, Wil­li­ams was angry. When she told men in her unit about the in­cid­ent, they said she’d joined a man’s mil­it­ary and asked what she ex­pec­ted to hap­pen. “It def­in­itely made me feel guys who were sexu­ally har­ass­ing me, who were vi­ol­at­ing the rules, who were do­ing the wrong thing — that guys felt they were more im­port­ant as sol­diers be­cause they were men.” Wil­li­ams, now a Tru­man Na­tion­al Se­cur­ity Pro­ject fel­low and the au­thor of Love My Rifle More Than You, didn’t want to be a vic­tim, so she stopped jok­ing around and came off as un­friendly, she says. It was a lonely de­cision with po­ten­tially steep costs. “It’s hard to be in a com­bat zone when I’m ex­pec­ted to rely on these guys for my life, but [I] no longer felt I could trust them to not sexu­ally as­sault me if I let my guard down.”

The mil­it­ary’s sexu­al-as­sault epi­dem­ic is well-known — and it is not con­fined to high-pro­file cases like the sex-ab­use edu­cat­or dis­covered run­ning a small-time pros­ti­tu­tion ring at Fort Hood, Texas; the Army ser­geant charged with secretly video­tap­ing fe­male ca­dets in West Point bath­rooms; or the 33 in­struct­ors en­snared in a sex scan­dal in­volving twice as many stu­dents at Lack­land Air Force base, also in Texas. Those scan­dals fueled the con­gres­sion­al and me­dia frenzy over the 3,374 re­por­ted sexu­al as­saults in the mil­it­ary last year. The Pentagon es­tim­ates that sexu­al as­saults ac­tu­ally oc­cur far more fre­quently — and that 26,000 troops were vic­tims of un­wanted sexu­al con­tact (6.1 per­cent of the mil­it­ary’s wo­men and 1.2 per­cent of its men) last year alone. Few­er than 1 per­cent of adults in the ci­vil­ian world ex­per­i­enced something com­par­able, ac­cord­ing to data in the most re­cent Na­tion­al Crime Vic­tim­iz­a­tion Sur­vey.

Less un­der­stood is why the mil­it­ary’s cul­ture of ab­use has been so hard to com­bat — let alone erad­ic­ate. Oth­er ci­vil­ian crimes (such as vi­ol­ent as­saults or theft) oc­cur at far lower rates in the mil­it­ary, but rampant sexu­al ab­use among the troops per­sists. The reas­ons are dif­fuse and, be­cause of fun­da­ment­al mil­it­ary val­ues, hard to change. They in­clude a stark gender im­bal­ance (roughly sev­en men for every wo­man), blurry lines between pro­fes­sion­al and per­son­al lives, in­tense bond­ing that can foster las­ci­vi­ous rituals, and a hier­arch­ic­al com­mand struc­ture that can in­ad­vert­ently en­able as­saults. The mil­it­ary, of course, is not peopled by rap­ists. Yet des­pite the Pentagon’s ap­par­ently sin­cere ef­forts to change the cul­ture, it is prov­ing al­most im­possible to al­ter the stand­ards of ac­cept­able be­ha­vi­or, es­pe­cially in situ­ations where young people have little su­per­vi­sion — leav­ing in­tact an en­vir­on­ment that can al­low those who would as­sault someone to take things too far. This is the story of why.

A MAN’S WORLD

Pentagon brass ap­pear to com­pre­hend the prob­lem. In a May in­ter­view with USA Today, the dir­ect­or of the De­fense De­part­ment’s Sexu­al As­sault Pre­ven­tion and Re­sponse Of­fice, Maj. Gen. Gary Pat­ton, de­scribed how sex­ism and sexu­al har­ass­ment in the mil­it­ary helps cre­ate a “per­missive en­vir­on­ment” where as­saults can oc­cur. Wo­men who re­por­ted a hos­tile work­ing en­vir­on­ment were six times like­li­er to say they ex­per­i­enced rape in a sur­vey of fe­male vet­er­ans con­duc­ted by the Uni­versity of Iowa So­cial Sci­ence Re­search Cen­ter in 2003; and those who said their rank­ing of­ficers or su­per­visors al­lowed (or made) sexu­ally de­mean­ing com­ments or ges­tures were up to four times as likely to cite rape.

 That’s why of­fi­cials are try­ing to mod­ern­ize the fight against sexu­al as­sault, which has per­sisted through many pledges to re­form since the 1991 Navy Tail­hook scan­dal, in which 83 wo­men and sev­en men were as­saul­ted at a Las Ve­gas avi­at­ors’ con­fer­ence. Back then, “pre­ven­tion” of­ten meant in­struct­ing troops to stay safe by lock­ing doors and win­dows; now train­ers tell them how to identi­fy and dis­rupt a po­ten­tial as­sault. De­fense Sec­ret­ary Chuck Hagel in May said com­mand­ers would be ac­count­able if they fail to foster a cli­mate that pre­vents as­sault, cares for vic­tims, and re­duces stigma as­so­ci­ated with re­port­ing. This month, Hagel ordered that as­sault vic­tims get leg­al rep­res­ent­a­tion throughout the ju­di­cial pro­cess; that the de­part­ment’s in­spect­or gen­er­al audit closed in­vest­ig­a­tions; and that seni­or of­fi­cials with­in the chain of com­mand re­ceive fol­low-up re­ports on as­saults and re­sponses. Hagel has also ordered in­spec­tions of mil­it­ary fa­cil­it­ies to re­move sexu­ally ex­pli­cit and de­grad­ing ma­ter­i­al. Yet at­ti­tudes in the mil­it­ary, where those who com­plain of mis­con­duct are of­ten seen as nuis­ances and worse, are not very pli­able.

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jen­nifer Smith, pop­u­lar among the fight­ers she worked for, was on track for suc­cess. When a young fe­male pi­lot train­ing at Luke Air Force Base re­ceived the call sign “Grassy” be­cause an­oth­er stu­dent re­vealed she nev­er shaved her private areas, Smith shrugged it off. When pi­lots screened por­no­graphy in front of the crew to amp up for fly­ing mis­sions in Ir­aq, she shrugged it off. When they sang dit­ties from the Vi­et­nam War era that had lyr­ics about mu­til­at­ing and rap­ing wo­men, she shrugged it off. (To the tune of Willy Wonka’s “Candy Man”: “Who can take a cheese grater, / Strap it to his arm? / Ram it in her pussy, / And make va­gina parmes­an? “¦ The S&M man cause he makes it with pain, / And makes the hurt feel good.”) The at­ti­tude of the older male pi­lots, Smith re­calls, was, “If you’re go­ing to run with the men” — es­pe­cially when men are the bosses — “you’d bet­ter learn how to deal with it.”

When Smith went to find equip­ment from a stor­age area for a fly­ing ex­er­cise at Shaw Air Force Base in 2008, she found porn in­stead. When she asked com­mand­ers to re­move it, pi­lots star­ted call­ing her a “bitch,” even though her com­plaint was sup­posed to be an­onym­ous and un­of­fi­cial. After that, Smith de­ployed to Ir­aq. There, a ser­vice mem­ber threw her against a wall and tried to rape her when she was work­ing an overnight shift. At first, Smith didn’t come for­ward be­cause, she says, she was dis­cour­aged that her seni­ors had failed to elim­in­ate the porn stash. Mean­while, she lost her tol­er­ance for sexu­al jokes. “I would say, ‘That’s really in­ap­pro­pri­ate,’ and that didn’t go over well. That’s like ques­tion­ing their au­thor­ity.” Fed up, she filed a form­al re­port after she’d re­turned stateside, dis­clos­ing both the porn and her as­sault. Be­cause she “snitched,” her cowork­ers “dropped me like a hot potato,” she said.

The mil­it­ary is full of tra­di­tions that linger from its all-male days, and these prompt some wo­men to com­plain that they are treated as second-class cit­izens — bolstered by ac­tu­al job in­equal­ity: Wo­men are still barred from front-line com­bat (at least un­til 2016) and are out­numbered in the of­ficer corps. They make up only 15 per­cent of 1.4 mil­lion act­ive-duty ser­vice mem­bers; only 16 per­cent of of­ficers are wo­men. Of the mil­it­ary’s 38 four-star gen­er­als or ad­mir­als, just one is a wo­man.

Wo­men’s lower status means that their male col­leagues some­times see them as less trust­worthy in a “he-said, she-said” scen­ario, ac­cord­ing to psy­cho­lo­gist Stephanie Sacks, au­thor of an es­say in a 2005 Wash­ing­ton Co­ali­tion of Sexu­al As­sault Pro­grams pub­lic­a­tion on mil­it­ary cul­ture and sexu­al-as­sault vic­tims. If a wo­man is as­saul­ted, wrote Sacks, who also trains mil­it­ary troops in sexu­al-as­sault pre­ven­tion, many men be­lieve “it is at least a little bit her fault be­cause she didn’t really be­long [in the mil­it­ary] to be­gin with”¦. The line goes that if you are go­ing to vol­un­tar­ily put your­self in the com­pany of large groups of men, es­pe­cially who are on a de­ploy­ment and so not hav­ing easy ac­cess to con­sen­su­al sex, what do you ex­pect?” If a wo­man com­plains, Sacks says, men may feel wo­men are di­vert­ing the mis­sion’s fo­cus with sec­ond­ary is­sues.

Wil­li­ams, who found out the hard way that she wasn’t really one of the boys, says this de­scribes her ex­per­i­ence. Yes, she was easy­going and joked around, but the men some­how thought they could turn their ex­pli­cit jokes in­to real­ity. While Wil­li­ams was lucky to have es­caped an as­sault, many oth­ers were not, and the at­ti­tudes dis­played by her peers after the in­cid­ent help show why so many as­saults go un­re­por­ted in the mil­it­ary. When Wil­li­ams was con­sid­er­ing com­plain­ing, they asked her, “Why would you ru­in a man’s ca­reer just be­cause you can’t take it?” She in­ferred that be­cause she was a wo­man and not al­lowed in com­bat, she was ef­fect­ively a “second-class cit­izen”: “My ca­reer was seen by my peers as be­ing less im­port­ant.”

More wor­ri­some, many ser­vice­men aren’t in­clined to be­lieve wo­men’s com­plaints in the first place. Ac­cord­ing to a Corps sur­vey in Septem­ber 2012, Mar­ines lis­ted be­ing falsely ac­cused of sexu­al as­sault as a top con­cern about open­ing com­bat po­s­i­tions to wo­men. A broad swath of re­search in the ci­vil­ian world shows that the rate of false re­port­ing is very low, around 2 to 8 per­cent, as is the case with oth­er felon­ies. But of 3,374 re­por­ted in­cid­ents in 2012, mil­it­ary pro­sec­utors won only 238 con­vic­tions. A big reas­on, says Air Force JAG re­serv­ist Dav­id Frakt, is that “in these he-said, she-said situ­ations, there’s no wit­ness, no oth­er phys­ic­al evid­ence to cor­rob­or­ate the claims. When the stand­ard is bey­ond a reas­on­able doubt, and you have an ac­cused who has a long re­cord of pos­it­ive mil­it­ary ser­vice, no pri­or his­tory, there’s a very high chance of ac­quit­tal in that situ­ation.”

Ac­quit­tal, of course, is not the same thing as in­no­cence, Frakt notes. Yet the mil­it­ary’s ju­di­cial sys­tem can fail vic­tims even be­fore a case gets to tri­al. Seni­or com­mand­ers, who have con­ven­ing au­thor­ity, make the de­cision about wheth­er to refer a case to a court-mar­tial, where the al­leg­a­tion must be proved bey­ond a reas­on­able doubt to earn a con­vic­tion. If a com­mand­er does not want to move the case for­ward, he or she can take no ac­tion; uni­lat­er­ally man­date an ad­min­is­trat­ive re­sponse (such as a rep­rim­and or coun­sel­ing) to cor­rect the ac­cused’s be­ha­vi­or; or preside over a non­ju­di­cial pun­ish­ment hear­ing in which the com­mand­er is the “sole de­cider of facts and pun­ish­ment,” ac­cord­ing to Frakt. Pun­ish­ment op­tions in this case are rather lim­ited — no jail time, no bad con­duct dis­charge, and no crim­in­al con­vic­tions.

With so few courts-mar­tial res­ult­ing in sexu­al-as­sault con­vic­tions, troops may be dis­in­clined to be­lieve there’s a real prob­lem — an en­vir­on­ment that would-be per­pet­rat­ors can ex­ploit to carry out as­saults. So the Pentagon is work­ing to com­bat this per­cep­tion. “Between 92 to 98 per­cent of the time, a vic­tim is telling us the truth. Those are pretty good odds,” Nath­an Gal­breath, a seni­or of­fi­cial in the Pentagon’s Sexu­al As­sault and Pre­ven­tion Of­fice, says. “We’re also try­ing to edu­cate folks on the dif­fer­ence between a false re­port and a re­port where there’s in­suf­fi­cient evid­ence.” Last year, com­mand­ers could not take ac­tion in 509 cases be­cause of “evid­en­tiary prob­lems.” An­oth­er 1,028 were either out­side the de­part­ment’s leg­al au­thor­ity or of­fi­cials thought the ac­cus­a­tions “un­foun­ded” — false or base­less. A base­less re­port usu­ally is pre­sumed truth­ful but does not meet the form­al stand­ards of the crime. It doesn’t mean the per­pet­rat­or is in­no­cent.

The mil­it­ary is a highly reg­u­lated or­gan­iz­a­tion, and that is part of the prob­lem. It has rules to cov­er everything from lip­stick shades to suit­able golf bud­dies. These guidelines make it nearly im­possible to frame a dis­cus­sion about con­sen­su­al sex versus as­sault, ar­gues Bruce Flem­ing, a pro­fess­or at the Nav­al Academy, where everything from hand-hold­ing to in­ter­course is out­lawed for all four years. “The mil­it­ary is ba­sic­ally a no-sex zone.” All bases are in­ten­ded to be sex-free. Or­al sex and adul­tery are crimes. Pub­lic dis­plays of af­fec­tion in uni­form are banned. Of­ficers can­not date, sleep with, or even spend too much time with en­lis­ted troops. The same goes for su­per­i­ors and in­feri­ors with­in those ranks. The mil­it­ary’s un­suc­cess­ful strategy has been to “for­bid and pun­ish” everything sexu­al to try to stop as­saults, when in­stead, Flem­ing says, it should be “tar­get­ing the spe­cif­ic de­vi­ant be­ha­vi­or that really mat­ters.”

Blanket reg­u­la­tions against everything sexu­al can cre­ate the per­cep­tion that sexu­al as­sault is some­how a less­er crime. Train­ing to be an Ar­ab­ic crypto­lo­gist for the Navy at the De­fense Lan­guage In­sti­tute in Monterey, Cal­if., Tia Chris­toph­er, then 19 years old, in­vited a fel­low ser­vice mem­ber (a pas­tor’s son who had taken her on a Bible study date) to stop by her room — break­ing the rules. “It went from, ‘Hey, what are you do­ing, stop!’ to him hit­ting my head on the cinder-block wall be­hind my bed.” Two wo­men were drink­ing next door and heard the struggle. But be­cause the mil­it­ary of­fers no am­nesty for “col­lat­er­al mis­con­duct,” they at first re­fused to sup­port Chris­toph­er’s al­leg­a­tion, fear­ing they’d be pun­ished for drink­ing. (They were.)

SEM­PER FI­DEL­IS

In the mil­it­ary’s closed so­ci­ety, there’s a per­vas­ive be­lief that “you know who can be trus­ted and who can’t,” Sacks tells Na­tion­al Journ­al. Any­one you know so well in your unit couldn’t pos­sibly at­tack someone else, the think­ing goes. 

This en­hanced loy­alty is vi­tal in com­bat, but it’s coun­ter­pro­duct­ive when it comes to be­liev­ing that someone has been as­saul­ted. The vic­tim who re­ports an in­cid­ent be­comes the “squeaky wheel” — the trouble­maker, es­pe­cially if per­form­ance starts to suf­fer as he or she pro­cesses the trauma, Sacks says. People think rap­ists are ugly and can’t get sex an­oth­er way, says Chris Kil­martin, a psy­cho­logy pro­fess­or at the Air Force Academy. They’re not. “They tend to be more hand­some, charm­ing, and have more con­sen­su­al sex than non-rap­ists, and [are] very good at cul­tiv­at­ing the ap­pear­ance of be­ing a nice guy. So when there’s an as­sault tak­ing place, people who know this guy say, ‘He’s such a nice guy, there’s no way he can do it.’ ” Af­ter­ward, of course, ci­vil­ians as­saul­ted in the work­place can look for an­oth­er job if they want; troops are locked in for years.

Know­ing they have to stay in an en­vir­on­ment where the group may side with the per­pet­rat­or can dis­cour­age vic­tims from re­port­ing the at­tack. Chris­toph­er heard stor­ies about wo­men who lost their ca­reers and friends by di­vul­ging the in­cid­ent, so she bleached her sheets and tried to for­get that her as­sault took place. But be­cause her at­tack­er star­ted stalk­ing her at the chow hall and en route to class, she fi­nally came for­ward. When her com­mand­er in charge of the Navy de­tach­ment at the lan­guage-train­ing base be­littled her rape re­port, she star­ted hav­ing pan­ic at­tacks, lost 30 pounds, and began fail­ing classes where she’d pre­vi­ously scored A’s. Even oth­er wo­men turned against her. “This girl, she was Pu­erto Ric­an” — like the at­tack­er — “called me a ‘ra­cist bitch.’ ” Vic­tim­ized men may face even high­er hurdles. “It’s hard to ima­gine how could a man, es­pe­cially a strong, tough man with a weapon, be sexu­ally as­saul­ted. So if they are, it brings up ques­tions about their mas­culin­ity,” Sacks says. “Do you want some­body on your team who is a vic­tim, some­body who couldn’t fight back?”

As­sail­ants in the mil­it­ary who go un­checked in an en­vir­on­ment skep­tic­al of as­saults can find more vic­tims. Chris­toph­er later found the same wo­man who in­sul­ted her cry­ing in a stair­well. “She said, ‘I’m so sorry. He raped me.’ ” 

Be­cause of the long odds for a con­vic­tion and the high cost (in stigma) at­tached to re­port­ing, the Pentagon wor­ries that vic­tims are dis­in­clined to file com­plaints. New pro­grams al­low “re­stric­ted re­port­ing” so vic­tims can get health care without press­ing charges or nam­ing their at­tack­ers, but these op­tions can re­in­force the be­lief that sexu­al-as­sault vic­tims are weak, need spe­cial treat­ment, or made it all up to milk the sys­tem. “The vic­tim is im­me­di­ately iden­ti­fied as a vic­tim,” says Frakt. Fel­low troops may see the per­son re­ceiv­ing “all kinds of perks,” in­clud­ing get­ting off work, ob­tain­ing coun­sel­ing, and tak­ing con­vales­cent leave. “In an en­vir­on­ment like the mil­it­ary, which treas­ures tough­ness and sort of deal­ing with your own prob­lems, all of these ser­vices may feed a per­cep­tion these people … [are] not cut out for the mil­it­ary way of life.” Already, male sol­diers of­ten see preg­nancy as a tac­tic wo­men use to es­cape a war zone. They may now be­lieve that re­stric­ted re­ports are a “guilt-free” way for wo­men to es­cape an un­pleas­ant de­ploy­ment, Frakt says. “Maybe they don’t like their com­mand­er, su­per­visor.”

What’s more, would-be sexu­al pred­at­ors have many op­por­tun­it­ies in a cul­ture where every­one is a dir­ect su­per­i­or or sub­or­din­ate. A train­ee, ac­cord­ing to Pro­tect Our De­fend­ers Pres­id­ent Nancy Par­rish, is told that su­per­i­ors are es­sen­tially “your preach­er, your boss, your fath­er fig­ure, your God.” If the su­per­i­or or­ders, say, an un­usu­al after-hours of­fice vis­it, train­ees go. Oth­er­wise, they can be writ­ten up for fail­ing to fol­low or­ders. Sexu­al-as­sault vic­tims are usu­ally lower-rank­ing. At Lack­land Air Force base, where every re­cruit goes for ba­sic train­ing, 24 in­struct­ors were con­victed re­cently of mis­con­duct with train­ees, ac­cord­ing to re­ports. In Au­gust, the Pentagon re­moved 60 re­cruit­ers, drill in­struct­ors, and sexu­al-as­sault coun­selors from duty after find­ing vi­ol­a­tions re­lated to al­co­hol, child ab­use, and sexu­al as­sault. An­oth­er prob­lem is the dif­fi­culty in screen­ing for pred­at­ory be­ha­vi­or: Un­til a per­son is in a po­s­i­tion of au­thor­ity, it’s hard to tell who will ab­use it.

Be­cause high­er-rank­ing ser­vice-mem­bers are re­spons­ible for what hap­pens on their watch, they have an in­cent­ive to ig­nore ac­cus­a­tions against their sub­or­din­ates or even to at­tack vic­tims’ cred­ib­il­ity, Par­rish says. “So the re­tali­ation be­gins: char­ging them with col­lat­er­al mis­con­duct, be­gin­ning to write them up for a series of so-called mis­be­ha­vi­ors, or send­ing them to psych wards to be mis­dia­gnosed with er­rant med­ic­al dia­gnoses such as per­son­al­ity dis­order.” Those pro­ced­ures can even lead to dis­charge. Ac­cord­ing to the Pentagon re­port, 62 per­cent of vic­tims who filed com­plaints said they were re­tali­ated against pro­fes­sion­ally, so­cially, or ad­min­is­trat­ively. Com­mand­ers can also make ju­di­cial de­cisions, as when a three-star gen­er­al over­turned the ag­grav­ated-as­sault con­vic­tion of Lt. Col. James Wilk­er­son, whom a jury of mil­it­ary of­ficers sen­tenced in Novem­ber to de­ten­tion and dis­missal from the mil­it­ary. 

That case fueled a push on Cap­it­ol Hill for an in­de­pend­ent mil­it­ary ju­di­ciary to handle sexu­al-as­sault cases, but the Pentagon still be­lieves com­mand­ers are best equipped to deal with the prob­lem. Frakt notes they can dole out ad­min­is­trat­ive pun­ish­ments like fines or de­mo­tions when a court-mar­tial con­vic­tion isn’t likely. “They re­cog­nize it’s prob­ably less [pun­ish­ment] than the per­son de­serves, but it’s not go­ing to be in the hands of a jury. People work very hard to do the right thing.” Yet vic­tims of­ten in­ter­pret these moves as just a slap on the wrist for their at­tack­er. De­li­l­ah Rum­burg, who leads the Pennsylvania Co­ali­tion Against Rape and the Na­tion­al Sexu­al Vi­ol­ence Re­source Cen­ter, says the biggest com­plaint she hears from fe­male vic­tims is “not so much they failed to get a con­vic­tion” but that the mil­it­ary sys­tem did not al­low for a fair pro­cess. 

HOL­LOW FORCE

When Chris­toph­er left the mil­it­ary, “I was like, ‘I’m go­ing to go to fuck­ing Oprah.‘ ” Four days later, she watched on tele­vi­sion as the Twin Towers fell on Sept. 11, 2001. “Wal­mart star­ted selling flag T-shirts. You hadn’t really seen a lot of pat­ri­ot­ism in a long time. I thought to my­self, ‘There’s no way I can talk about this. No one’s go­ing to want to hear what happened to me when there’s this fer­vor go­ing around.’ I was si­lent for many years.”

Now that the mil­it­ary is no longer on a war foot­ing, vic­tims like Chris­toph­er and ad­vocacy groups hope they will have a chance to re­shape the mil­it­ary’s struc­ture and fo­cus on com­bat­ing the en­emy with­in. The on­slaught of me­dia re­ports on sex scan­dals has fueled mo­mentum among law­makers on Cap­it­ol Hill and seni­or of­fi­cials in the Pentagon.

Des­pite this can-do at­ti­tude, no quick fix is avail­able. Poli­cy­makers can in­stall vic­tim-as­sist­ance pro­grams, but un­til there’s less stigma at­tached to re­port­ing sexu­al crimes, they will go un­der­used. Com­mand­ers can prom­ise to take as­sault cases ser­i­ously, but un­til the con­vic­tion rate rises, vic­tims will see their su­per­i­ors as in­ef­fect­ive or un­trust­worthy. The mil­it­ary can oust ab­users, but in a sys­tem where com­mand­ers ul­ti­mately make all the de­cisions, it won’t get con­sist­ent res­ults. The Pentagon can man­date pre­ven­tion train­ing and the press can sen­sa­tion­al­ize ab­use scan­dals, but when troops see all this as a witch hunt rather than a true prob­lem, they will foster a cul­ture that al­lows true as­sail­ants to op­er­ate re­l­at­ively freely.

And de­fense lead­ers them­selves may be out of touch with be­ha­vi­ors that evolve on the front. When Kay­la Wil­li­ams lived on an Ir­aqi moun­tain­side among all those men, she and her fel­low sol­diers slept in a pen cir­cum­scribed by barbed wire to pre­vent in­cur­sions. Des­pite the many mil­it­ary reg­u­la­tions, they cre­ated their own cul­ture from norms they thought were ac­cept­able. It was powered by sexu­ally ex­pli­cit jokes and ex­posed gen­italia.

CLA­RI­FIC­A­TION: An earli­er ver­sion of this story iden­ti­fied Dav­id Frakt as a former Air Force JAG of­ficer; he is, in fact, now a re­serv­ist.

A MAN'S WORLD

Pentagon brass ap­pear to com­pre­hend the prob­lem. In a May in­ter­view with USA Today, the dir­ect­or of the De­fense De­part­ment’s Sexu­al As­sault Pre­ven­tion and Re­sponse Of­fice, Maj. Gen. Gary Pat­ton, de­scribed how sex­ism and sexu­al har­ass­ment in the mil­it­ary helps cre­ate a “per­missive en­vir­on­ment” where as­saults can oc­cur. Wo­men who re­por­ted a hos­tile work­ing en­vir­on­ment were six times like­li­er to say they ex­per­i­enced rape in a sur­vey of fe­male vet­er­ans con­duc­ted by the Uni­versity of Iowa So­cial Sci­ence Re­search Cen­ter in 2003; and those who said their rank­ing of­ficers or su­per­visors al­lowed (or made) sexu­ally de­mean­ing com­ments or ges­tures were up to four times as likely to cite rape.

 That’s why of­fi­cials are try­ing to mod­ern­ize the fight against sexu­al as­sault, which has per­sisted through many pledges to re­form since the 1991 Navy Tail­hook scan­dal, in which 83 wo­men and sev­en men were as­saul­ted at a Las Ve­gas avi­at­ors’ con­fer­ence. Back then, “pre­ven­tion” of­ten meant in­struct­ing troops to stay safe by lock­ing doors and win­dows; now train­ers tell them how to identi­fy and dis­rupt a po­ten­tial as­sault. De­fense Sec­ret­ary Chuck Hagel in May said com­mand­ers would be ac­count­able if they fail to foster a cli­mate that pre­vents as­sault, cares for vic­tims, and re­duces stigma as­so­ci­ated with re­port­ing. This month, Hagel ordered that as­sault vic­tims get leg­al rep­res­ent­a­tion throughout the ju­di­cial pro­cess; that the de­part­ment’s in­spect­or gen­er­al audit closed in­vest­ig­a­tions; and that seni­or of­fi­cials with­in the chain of com­mand re­ceive fol­low-up re­ports on as­saults and re­sponses. Hagel has also ordered in­spec­tions of mil­it­ary fa­cil­it­ies to re­move sexu­ally ex­pli­cit and de­grad­ing ma­ter­i­al. Yet at­ti­tudes in the mil­it­ary, where those who com­plain of mis­con­duct are of­ten seen as nuis­ances and worse, are not very pli­able.

Air Force Tech. Sgt. Jen­nifer Smith, pop­u­lar among the fight­ers she worked for, was on track for suc­cess. When a young fe­male pi­lot train­ing at Luke Air Force Base re­ceived the call sign “Grassy” be­cause an­oth­er stu­dent re­vealed she nev­er shaved her private areas, Smith shrugged it off. When pi­lots screened por­no­graphy in front of the crew to amp up for fly­ing mis­sions in Ir­aq, she shrugged it off. When they sang dit­ties from the Vi­et­nam War era that had lyr­ics about mu­til­at­ing and rap­ing wo­men, she shrugged it off. (To the tune of Willy Wonka’s “Candy Man”: “Who can take a cheese grater, / Strap it to his arm? / Ram it in her pussy, / And make va­gina parmes­an? “¦ The S&M man cause he makes it with pain, / And makes the hurt feel good.”) The at­ti­tude of the older male pi­lots, Smith re­calls, was, “If you’re go­ing to run with the men” — es­pe­cially when men are the bosses — “you’d bet­ter learn how to deal with it.”

When Smith went to find equip­ment from a stor­age area for a fly­ing ex­er­cise at Shaw Air Force Base in 2008, she found porn in­stead. When she asked com­mand­ers to re­move it, pi­lots star­ted call­ing her a “bitch,” even though her com­plaint was sup­posed to be an­onym­ous and un­of­fi­cial. After that, Smith de­ployed to Ir­aq. There, a ser­vice mem­ber threw her against a wall and tried to rape her when she was work­ing an overnight shift. At first, Smith didn’t come for­ward be­cause, she says, she was dis­cour­aged that her seni­ors had failed to elim­in­ate the porn stash. Mean­while, she lost her tol­er­ance for sexu­al jokes. “I would say, ‘That’s really in­ap­pro­pri­ate,’ and that didn’t go over well. That’s like ques­tion­ing their au­thor­ity.” Fed up, she filed a form­al re­port after she’d re­turned stateside, dis­clos­ing both the porn and her as­sault. Be­cause she “snitched,” her cowork­ers “dropped me like a hot potato,” she said.

The mil­it­ary is full of tra­di­tions that linger from its all-male days, and these prompt some wo­men to com­plain that they are treated as second-class cit­izens — bolstered by ac­tu­al job in­equal­ity: Wo­men are still barred from front-line com­bat (at least un­til 2016) and are out­numbered in the of­ficer corps. They make up only 15 per­cent of 1.4 mil­lion act­ive-duty ser­vice mem­bers; only 16 per­cent of of­ficers are wo­men. Of the mil­it­ary’s 38 four-star gen­er­als or ad­mir­als, just one is a wo­man.

Wo­men’s lower status means that their male col­leagues some­times see them as less trust­worthy in a “he-said, she-said” scen­ario, ac­cord­ing to psy­cho­lo­gist Stephanie Sacks, au­thor of an es­say in a 2005 Wash­ing­ton Co­ali­tion of Sexu­al As­sault Pro­grams pub­lic­a­tion on mil­it­ary cul­ture and sexu­al-as­sault vic­tims. If a wo­man is as­saul­ted, wrote Sacks, who also trains mil­it­ary troops in sexu­al-as­sault pre­ven­tion, many men be­lieve “it is at least a little bit her fault be­cause she didn’t really be­long [in the mil­it­ary] to be­gin with”¦. The line goes that if you are go­ing to vol­un­tar­ily put your­self in the com­pany of large groups of men, es­pe­cially who are on a de­ploy­ment and so not hav­ing easy ac­cess to con­sen­su­al sex, what do you ex­pect?” If a wo­man com­plains, Sacks says, men may feel wo­men are di­vert­ing the mis­sion’s fo­cus with sec­ond­ary is­sues.

Wil­li­ams, who found out the hard way that she wasn’t really one of the boys, says this de­scribes her ex­per­i­ence. Yes, she was easy­going and joked around, but the men some­how thought they could turn their ex­pli­cit jokes in­to real­ity. While Wil­li­ams was lucky to have es­caped an as­sault, many oth­ers were not, and the at­ti­tudes dis­played by her peers after the in­cid­ent help show why so many as­saults go un­re­por­ted in the mil­it­ary. When Wil­li­ams was con­sid­er­ing com­plain­ing, they asked her, “Why would you ru­in a man’s ca­reer just be­cause you can’t take it?” She in­ferred that be­cause she was a wo­man and not al­lowed in com­bat, she was ef­fect­ively a “second-class cit­izen”: “My ca­reer was seen by my peers as be­ing less im­port­ant.”

More wor­ri­some, many ser­vice­men aren’t in­clined to be­lieve wo­men’s com­plaints in the first place. Ac­cord­ing to a Corps sur­vey in Septem­ber 2012, Mar­ines lis­ted be­ing falsely ac­cused of sexu­al as­sault as a top con­cern about open­ing com­bat po­s­i­tions to wo­men. A broad swath of re­search in the ci­vil­ian world shows that the rate of false re­port­ing is very low, around 2 to 8 per­cent, as is the case with oth­er felon­ies. But of 3,374 re­por­ted in­cid­ents in 2012, mil­it­ary pro­sec­utors won only 238 con­vic­tions. A big reas­on, says Air Force JAG re­serv­ist Dav­id Frakt, is that “in these he-said, she-said situ­ations, there’s no wit­ness, no oth­er phys­ic­al evid­ence to cor­rob­or­ate the claims. When the stand­ard is bey­ond a reas­on­able doubt, and you have an ac­cused who has a long re­cord of pos­it­ive mil­it­ary ser­vice, no pri­or his­tory, there’s a very high chance of ac­quit­tal in that situ­ation.”

Ac­quit­tal, of course, is not the same thing as in­no­cence, Frakt notes. Yet the mil­it­ary’s ju­di­cial sys­tem can fail vic­tims even be­fore a case gets to tri­al. Seni­or com­mand­ers, who have con­ven­ing au­thor­ity, make the de­cision about wheth­er to refer a case to a court-mar­tial, where the al­leg­a­tion must be proved bey­ond a reas­on­able doubt to earn a con­vic­tion. If a com­mand­er does not want to move the case for­ward, he or she can take no ac­tion; uni­lat­er­ally man­date an ad­min­is­trat­ive re­sponse (such as a rep­rim­and or coun­sel­ing) to cor­rect the ac­cused’s be­ha­vi­or; or preside over a non­ju­di­cial pun­ish­ment hear­ing in which the com­mand­er is the “sole de­cider of facts and pun­ish­ment,” ac­cord­ing to Frakt. Pun­ish­ment op­tions in this case are rather lim­ited — no jail time, no bad con­duct dis­charge, and no crim­in­al con­vic­tions.

With so few courts-mar­tial res­ult­ing in sexu­al-as­sault con­vic­tions, troops may be dis­in­clined to be­lieve there’s a real prob­lem — an en­vir­on­ment that would-be per­pet­rat­ors can ex­ploit to carry out as­saults. So the Pentagon is work­ing to com­bat this per­cep­tion. “Between 92 to 98 per­cent of the time, a vic­tim is telling us the truth. Those are pretty good odds,” Nath­an Gal­breath, a seni­or of­fi­cial in the Pentagon’s Sexu­al As­sault and Pre­ven­tion Of­fice, says. “We’re also try­ing to edu­cate folks on the dif­fer­ence between a false re­port and a re­port where there’s in­suf­fi­cient evid­ence.” Last year, com­mand­ers could not take ac­tion in 509 cases be­cause of “evid­en­tiary prob­lems.” An­oth­er 1,028 were either out­side the de­part­ment’s leg­al au­thor­ity or of­fi­cials thought the ac­cus­a­tions “un­foun­ded” — false or base­less. A base­less re­port usu­ally is pre­sumed truth­ful but does not meet the form­al stand­ards of the crime. It doesn’t mean the per­pet­rat­or is in­no­cent.

The mil­it­ary is a highly reg­u­lated or­gan­iz­a­tion, and that is part of the prob­lem. It has rules to cov­er everything from lip­stick shades to suit­able golf bud­dies. These guidelines make it nearly im­possible to frame a dis­cus­sion about con­sen­su­al sex versus as­sault, ar­gues Bruce Flem­ing, a pro­fess­or at the Nav­al Academy, where everything from hand-hold­ing to in­ter­course is out­lawed for all four years. “The mil­it­ary is ba­sic­ally a no-sex zone.” All bases are in­ten­ded to be sex-free. Or­al sex and adul­tery are crimes. Pub­lic dis­plays of af­fec­tion in uni­form are banned. Of­ficers can­not date, sleep with, or even spend too much time with en­lis­ted troops. The same goes for su­per­i­ors and in­feri­ors with­in those ranks. The mil­it­ary’s un­suc­cess­ful strategy has been to “for­bid and pun­ish” everything sexu­al to try to stop as­saults, when in­stead, Flem­ing says, it should be “tar­get­ing the spe­cif­ic de­vi­ant be­ha­vi­or that really mat­ters.”

Blanket reg­u­la­tions against everything sexu­al can cre­ate the per­cep­tion that sexu­al as­sault is some­how a less­er crime. Train­ing to be an Ar­ab­ic crypto­lo­gist for the Navy at the De­fense Lan­guage In­sti­tute in Monterey, Cal­if., Tia Chris­toph­er, then 19 years old, in­vited a fel­low ser­vice mem­ber (a pas­tor’s son who had taken her on a Bible study date) to stop by her room — break­ing the rules. “It went from, ‘Hey, what are you do­ing, stop!’ to him hit­ting my head on the cinder-block wall be­hind my bed.” Two wo­men were drink­ing next door and heard the struggle. But be­cause the mil­it­ary of­fers no am­nesty for “col­lat­er­al mis­con­duct,” they at first re­fused to sup­port Chris­toph­er’s al­leg­a­tion, fear­ing they’d be pun­ished for drink­ing. (They were.)

SEMPER FIDELIS

In the mil­it­ary’s closed so­ci­ety, there’s a per­vas­ive be­lief that “you know who can be trus­ted and who can’t,” Sacks tells Na­tion­al Journ­al. Any­one you know so well in your unit couldn’t pos­sibly at­tack someone else, the think­ing goes. 

This en­hanced loy­alty is vi­tal in com­bat, but it’s coun­ter­pro­duct­ive when it comes to be­liev­ing that someone has been as­saul­ted. The vic­tim who re­ports an in­cid­ent be­comes the “squeaky wheel” — the trouble­maker, es­pe­cially if per­form­ance starts to suf­fer as he or she pro­cesses the trauma, Sacks says. People think rap­ists are ugly and can’t get sex an­oth­er way, says Chris Kil­martin, a psy­cho­logy pro­fess­or at the Air Force Academy. They’re not. “They tend to be more hand­some, charm­ing, and have more con­sen­su­al sex than non-rap­ists, and [are] very good at cul­tiv­at­ing the ap­pear­ance of be­ing a nice guy. So when there’s an as­sault tak­ing place, people who know this guy say, ‘He’s such a nice guy, there’s no way he can do it.’ ” Af­ter­ward, of course, ci­vil­ians as­saul­ted in the work­place can look for an­oth­er job if they want; troops are locked in for years.

Know­ing they have to stay in an en­vir­on­ment where the group may side with the per­pet­rat­or can dis­cour­age vic­tims from re­port­ing the at­tack. Chris­toph­er heard stor­ies about wo­men who lost their ca­reers and friends by di­vul­ging the in­cid­ent, so she bleached her sheets and tried to for­get that her as­sault took place. But be­cause her at­tack­er star­ted stalk­ing her at the chow hall and en route to class, she fi­nally came for­ward. When her com­mand­er in charge of the Navy de­tach­ment at the lan­guage-train­ing base be­littled her rape re­port, she star­ted hav­ing pan­ic at­tacks, lost 30 pounds, and began fail­ing classes where she’d pre­vi­ously scored A’s. Even oth­er wo­men turned against her. “This girl, she was Pu­erto Ric­an” — like the at­tack­er — “called me a ‘ra­cist bitch.’ ” Vic­tim­ized men may face even high­er hurdles. “It’s hard to ima­gine how could a man, es­pe­cially a strong, tough man with a weapon, be sexu­ally as­saul­ted. So if they are, it brings up ques­tions about their mas­culin­ity,” Sacks says. “Do you want some­body on your team who is a vic­tim, some­body who couldn’t fight back?”

As­sail­ants in the mil­it­ary who go un­checked in an en­vir­on­ment skep­tic­al of as­saults can find more vic­tims. Chris­toph­er later found the same wo­man who in­sul­ted her cry­ing in a stair­well. “She said, ‘I’m so sorry. He raped me.’ ” 

Be­cause of the long odds for a con­vic­tion and the high cost (in stigma) at­tached to re­port­ing, the Pentagon wor­ries that vic­tims are dis­in­clined to file com­plaints. New pro­grams al­low “re­stric­ted re­port­ing” so vic­tims can get health care without press­ing charges or nam­ing their at­tack­ers, but these op­tions can re­in­force the be­lief that sexu­al-as­sault vic­tims are weak, need spe­cial treat­ment, or made it all up to milk the sys­tem. “The vic­tim is im­me­di­ately iden­ti­fied as a vic­tim,” says Frakt. Fel­low troops may see the per­son re­ceiv­ing “all kinds of perks,” in­clud­ing get­ting off work, ob­tain­ing coun­sel­ing, and tak­ing con­vales­cent leave. “In an en­vir­on­ment like the mil­it­ary, which treas­ures tough­ness and sort of deal­ing with your own prob­lems, all of these ser­vices may feed a per­cep­tion these people … [are] not cut out for the mil­it­ary way of life.” Already, male sol­diers of­ten see preg­nancy as a tac­tic wo­men use to es­cape a war zone. They may now be­lieve that re­stric­ted re­ports are a “guilt-free” way for wo­men to es­cape an un­pleas­ant de­ploy­ment, Frakt says. “Maybe they don’t like their com­mand­er, su­per­visor.”

What’s more, would-be sexu­al pred­at­ors have many op­por­tun­it­ies in a cul­ture where every­one is a dir­ect su­per­i­or or sub­or­din­ate. A train­ee, ac­cord­ing to Pro­tect Our De­fend­ers Pres­id­ent Nancy Par­rish, is told that su­per­i­ors are es­sen­tially “your preach­er, your boss, your fath­er fig­ure, your God.” If the su­per­i­or or­ders, say, an un­usu­al after-hours of­fice vis­it, train­ees go. Oth­er­wise, they can be writ­ten up for fail­ing to fol­low or­ders. Sexu­al-as­sault vic­tims are usu­ally lower-rank­ing. At Lack­land Air Force base, where every re­cruit goes for ba­sic train­ing, 24 in­struct­ors were con­victed re­cently of mis­con­duct with train­ees, ac­cord­ing to re­ports. In Au­gust, the Pentagon re­moved 60 re­cruit­ers, drill in­struct­ors, and sexu­al-as­sault coun­selors from duty after find­ing vi­ol­a­tions re­lated to al­co­hol, child ab­use, and sexu­al as­sault. An­oth­er prob­lem is the dif­fi­culty in screen­ing for pred­at­ory be­ha­vi­or: Un­til a per­son is in a po­s­i­tion of au­thor­ity, it’s hard to tell who will ab­use it.

Be­cause high­er-rank­ing ser­vice-mem­bers are re­spons­ible for what hap­pens on their watch, they have an in­cent­ive to ig­nore ac­cus­a­tions against their sub­or­din­ates or even to at­tack vic­tims’ cred­ib­il­ity, Par­rish says. “So the re­tali­ation be­gins: char­ging them with col­lat­er­al mis­con­duct, be­gin­ning to write them up for a series of so-called mis­be­ha­vi­ors, or send­ing them to psych wards to be mis­dia­gnosed with er­rant med­ic­al dia­gnoses such as per­son­al­ity dis­order.” Those pro­ced­ures can even lead to dis­charge. Ac­cord­ing to the Pentagon re­port, 62 per­cent of vic­tims who filed com­plaints said they were re­tali­ated against pro­fes­sion­ally, so­cially, or ad­min­is­trat­ively. Com­mand­ers can also make ju­di­cial de­cisions, as when a three-star gen­er­al over­turned the ag­grav­ated-as­sault con­vic­tion of Lt. Col. James Wilk­er­son, whom a jury of mil­it­ary of­ficers sen­tenced in Novem­ber to de­ten­tion and dis­missal from the mil­it­ary. 

That case fueled a push on Cap­it­ol Hill for an in­de­pend­ent mil­it­ary ju­di­ciary to handle sexu­al-as­sault cases, but the Pentagon still be­lieves com­mand­ers are best equipped to deal with the prob­lem. Frakt notes they can dole out ad­min­is­trat­ive pun­ish­ments like fines or de­mo­tions when a court-mar­tial con­vic­tion isn’t likely. “They re­cog­nize it’s prob­ably less [pun­ish­ment] than the per­son de­serves, but it’s not go­ing to be in the hands of a jury. People work very hard to do the right thing.” Yet vic­tims of­ten in­ter­pret these moves as just a slap on the wrist for their at­tack­er. De­li­l­ah Rum­burg, who leads the Pennsylvania Co­ali­tion Against Rape and the Na­tion­al Sexu­al Vi­ol­ence Re­source Cen­ter, says the biggest com­plaint she hears from fe­male vic­tims is “not so much they failed to get a con­vic­tion” but that the mil­it­ary sys­tem did not al­low for a fair pro­cess. 

HOLLOW FORCE

When Chris­toph­er left the mil­it­ary, “I was like, ‘I’m go­ing to go to fuck­ing Oprah.‘ ” Four days later, she watched on tele­vi­sion as the Twin Towers fell on Sept. 11, 2001. “Wal­mart star­ted selling flag T-shirts. You hadn’t really seen a lot of pat­ri­ot­ism in a long time. I thought to my­self, ‘There’s no way I can talk about this. No one’s go­ing to want to hear what happened to me when there’s this fer­vor go­ing around.’ I was si­lent for many years.”

Now that the mil­it­ary is no longer on a war foot­ing, vic­tims like Chris­toph­er and ad­vocacy groups hope they will have a chance to re­shape the mil­it­ary’s struc­ture and fo­cus on com­bat­ing the en­emy with­in. The on­slaught of me­dia re­ports on sex scan­dals has fueled mo­mentum among law­makers on Cap­it­ol Hill and seni­or of­fi­cials in the Pentagon.

Des­pite this can-do at­ti­tude, no quick fix is avail­able. Poli­cy­makers can in­stall vic­tim-as­sist­ance pro­grams, but un­til there’s less stigma at­tached to re­port­ing sexu­al crimes, they will go un­der­used. Com­mand­ers can prom­ise to take as­sault cases ser­i­ously, but un­til the con­vic­tion rate rises, vic­tims will see their su­per­i­ors as in­ef­fect­ive or un­trust­worthy. The mil­it­ary can oust ab­users, but in a sys­tem where com­mand­ers ul­ti­mately make all the de­cisions, it won’t get con­sist­ent res­ults. The Pentagon can man­date pre­ven­tion train­ing and the press can sen­sa­tion­al­ize ab­use scan­dals, but when troops see all this as a witch hunt rather than a true prob­lem, they will foster a cul­ture that al­lows true as­sail­ants to op­er­ate re­l­at­ively freely.

And de­fense lead­ers them­selves may be out of touch with be­ha­vi­ors that evolve on the front. When Kay­la Wil­li­ams lived on an Ir­aqi moun­tain­side among all those men, she and her fel­low sol­diers slept in a pen cir­cum­scribed by barbed wire to pre­vent in­cur­sions. Des­pite the many mil­it­ary reg­u­la­tions, they cre­ated their own cul­ture from norms they thought were ac­cept­able. It was powered by sexu­ally ex­pli­cit jokes and ex­posed gen­italia.

CLA­RI­FIC­A­TION: An earli­er ver­sion of this story iden­ti­fied Dav­id Frakt as a former Air Force JAG of­ficer; he is, in fact, now a re­serv­ist.

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CAMPAIGNS INJECTED NEW AD MONEY
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"Clinton and Bernie Sanders "are now devoting additional money to television advertising. A day after Sanders announced a new ad buy of less than $2 million in the state, Clinton announced her own television campaign. Ads featuring actor Morgan Freeman as well as labor leader and civil rights activist Dolores Huerta will air beginning on Fridayin Fresno, Sacramento, and Los Angeles media markets. Some ads will also target Latino voters and Asian American voters. The total value of the buy is about six figures according to the Clinton campaign." Meanwhile, a new poll shows Sanders within the margin of error, trailing Clinton 44%-46%.

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