-DHS Supervisor Timothy Borden to my mother

Rape victim: Retaliation prevalent in military

Posted: May 31, 2013 5:14 AM EDT Updated: May 31, 2013 5:14 AM EDT

Associated Press

SAN DIEGO (AP) - Stacey Thompson had just been stationed at Marine base in Japan when she said her sergeant laced her drinks with drugs, raped her in his barracks and then dumped her onto a street outside a nightclub at 4 a.m.

The 19-year-old lance corporal was not afraid to speak up.

She reported it to her superiors but little happened. She said she discovered her perpetrator was allowed to leave the Marine Corps and she found herself, instead, at the center of a separate investigation for drug use stemming from that night. Six months later, she was kicked out with an other-than-honorable discharge - one step below honorable discharge - which means she lost her benefits.

Now, 14 years later, she has decided to speak out again, emboldened by the mounting pressure on the Pentagon to resolve its growing sexual assault epidemic.

She went public with her story Thursday in an exclusive interview with The Associated Press. She is among the scores of service members who have lived in silence for decades and are now stepping forward to fight for an overhaul of the military's justice system and demand their own cases be re-examined.

"To see that what happened to me 14 years ago is still continuing to happen now, for me that was a big reason why I felt the need to come forward," she said. "I can finally say I have the strength."

Marine Corps and Navy officials declined to comment, saying they do not discuss specific cases. The Marine Corps has said it takes sexual assault allegations seriously and continues to improve in responding to and preventing rapes within the ranks. All branches have been implementing sexual assault prevention programs in the past year.

Retaliation is part of a military-wide pattern that has prevented countless cases from being reported and investigated, exacerbating the epidemic, according to victims' advocates. A Pentagon report released earlier this month found 62 percent of sexual assault victims in the military who reported being attacked say they faced some kind of retaliation afterward.

"It's an ongoing problem that is not getting better, it's getting worse, as the latest statistics out of the Pentagon show," said Brian Purchia, spokesman for Protect Our Defenders, which has been helping Thompson. "Unfortunately commanders are conflicted: When a sexual assault occurs on their watch, it reflects poorly on them and that's why it's shoved under the rug. The perpetrators frequently out rank the victims, which is also why there is this bias. They're going to trust people they've known - not an 18 or 19-year-old just new to the service."

Thompson said military culture will not change until the system changes. She will speak Friday at a news conference in Los Angeles with Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., to show her support for her bipartisan bill that would put the cases in the hands of military trained prosecutors.

Service members now must report any crimes to the chain of command, even when their superiors have been involved.

"Too many survivors of military sexual assault are afraid to report these crimes because they fear retaliation, and they don't believe they will get justice," Boxer said. "They deserve a system that encourages victims to come forward knowing that the perpetrators will be brought to justice."

Thompson said she was not afraid to report the crime but paid heavily for doing so.

The investigator called her a liar, and military authorities checked her hands for needle pricks after accusing her of using drugs. She said she never used drugs. She was reassigned to another unit, removed from her job and told to report to an office, where she had nothing to do for months.

Then she was kicked out. She continues to suffer from her other-than-honorable discharge, which stripped her of her benefits and she believes has led to her missing out on Defense Department jobs.

"I felt the Marine Corps re-victimized me again after getting raped," said the 32-year-old mother of three.

Thompson said she shut down after getting out, refusing to talk about her rape. She was afraid of men, especially Marines. To this day, she keeps her dog nearby when she showers and sleeps with lights on in her house, even when her combat Marine husband is home.

"That fear is still with me 14 years later," she said.

But the fight is there too. Thompson requested her records in December. She said they showed the drug use allegations against her came from her perpetrator's friends.

She is now appealing her case to the Department of Veterans Affairs and is seeking compensation related to military sexual trauma. After that, she plans to also appeal her discharge status to get it upgraded to honorable.

Several service members have filed lawsuits in the past two years, alleging retaliation after they reported being raped. Among them was another former Marine, Elle Helmer, who said in her lawsuit that after reporting her sexual assault in 2006, the military investigated her for public intoxication and unbecoming conduct. She left the military soon after.

The extent of the assaults came to light when the Pentagon released a report earlier this month estimating that as many as 26,000 military members may have been sexually assaulted last year and that thousands of victims are unwilling to come forward despite new oversight and assistance programs. That figure is an increase over the 19,000 estimated assaults in 2011.

Only 3,374 of these crimes were reported, resulting in just 238 convictions. The Senate Armed Services Committee will hold a hearing next week on legislation to combat military sexual assault, including the bill sponsored by Boxer and other lawmakers.

Copyright 2013 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.



In March of 2010, a male Special Agent Agent In Charge, was placed in a position of authority over a program of which he had no relative experience and the employees in that program. This Agent In Charge had a known history of disdain for women.

September 2010, "Jane" was chosen from a pool of three eligible candidates to become a supervisor required to directly reported to him. 

October of 2010, Jane announced her pregnancy. The Agent In Charge began abusive tone, created a hostile work environment, and threats began shortly after. Jane was forced to attend weekly meetings alone in the Agent In Charge's office with the door closed.  "He would berate me and verbally threaten me."  

March 31, 2011 Jane filed an Equal Employment Opportunity complaint.

May 4, 2011 Jane was demoted to "officer" from the supervisory position. (19 days prior to the birth of her child.) The Agent In Charge continued harassing her with ultimatums and threatening to have her fired.

April 2012 the Agent In Charge was removed from Jane's duty station and relocated several states away.

September 2012 Jane settled with the Agency and dropped her EEO complaint. She was "reinstated" to the supervisory position, received back pay, and little compensation for the two years of turmoil, and attorney fees.

Jane endured two years of harassment, her reputation was tarnished, her work reputation slandered, and what was once passion for her work has turned to disdain. She see's "no career" anymore.

Harassed in Military

As I was sitting in a family orientation with my fiancĂ© who was departing for the beginning of United States military boot camp,  I decided at that moment that I too was going to join the military. It was September 1999; I never could have imagined how much my life was going to change from that moment forward.

I received my military orders that I was to leave for boot camp February 2000. I was also supposed to graduate high school that June, but I made the decision to join the military. I knew that I might not make it home in time to walk with my class in high school graduation ceremonies, but I felt that what I was doing for my country was much more important.  I left my family for 6 weeks of boot camp and another 5 weeks for "tech" school to learn my so called "job" that I thought would be a great way to start my life as an 18 year old girl, fresh out of high school. As soon as I graduated both boot camp and tech school and returned home - my life negatively changed.
Graduating boot camp, I was told there wasn't really a place for me and two other girls who were similar in age and position. Leadership indicated that they would provide me on-the-job-training. After a few months of not knowing where I belonged, they finally found a position for me. I was so excited I that I was going to be working with pilots and have all kinds of confidential information thrown my way - what 18 year-old wouldn't be excited about that?

I went into that office ready to make a name for myself and show the handful of officers and sergeants what I was made of.  As I eagerly engaged my new career, I completed tasks, updated files, memorandums, and other things that were neglected for years without any guidance. When I would ask my superiors for guidance they were too busy joking, laughing at others' misfortunes, or playing games to guide me.  As time went on I learned to "follow the flow" because my skills were not "required". Our "work" was a "social" event and nobody cared to maintain integrity of our service. I lost respect for our military and lost sight of contributing value of why I dedicated to serve my country. 

The depression of being devalued contributed to my gaining weight "above" acceptable levels so I was not allowed to wear our military uniform and therefore not allowed to participate in our daily training "until I lost the weight." What I learned was they singled me out to look different, ridiculing me for "not being allowed to wear the military uniform" that I once so proudly wore. I was a soldier who took the time to iron and crease my uniform. I had pride.

I was told that I had to study on my own time while all the others were provided time studying on base. I was denied opportunity to take my first CDC test. My fiance was advancing, but I was denied the same opportunity.

Unprepared, I failed my first CDC test. It was humiliating that the very people I was to entrust were setting me up for failure, especially after being singled out, belittled and ignored. At age 18 my self-esteem was beaten down by the people who were suppose to mentor, protect, and build me to be the best soldier I could be.

Others witnessed this and would tell me it was unfair the way that I was being treated, but nobody would stand up for me.

I was denied to attend mandatory training sessions so I didn't learn what I needed to advance.   
September 2002, I was sent to a different base for training. Finally, I had experienced a group of soldiers who were professional, embraced their job responsibilities, and were under leadership that created camaraderie.

Returning to my base, I took my 2nd CDC test. One week before scheduled reporting, leadership informed me that I did not pass my test, and to bring all of my military belongings with me for a meeting with our commander.  My heart sank. I failed. I had no idea what was going to happen. I knew I had a couple options but from the treatment that I had received the previous years I knew the outlook wasn't going to be good. I succumbed to being okay with that. I succumbed! I knew in my heart that I was set up for failure. I went into my meeting expecting, perhaps, to be cross-trained or to have the ability to transfer to the other base I had trained at. 

My commander and two other superior officers joined our meeting. The commander looked directly at me and said, "as you know, you did not pass your second CDC test by two points." Extremely upset, as I began to cry, feeling of failure, the commander looked me directly and said "Why are you crying? You did this. You have gone the past few years... not wanting to take the opportunity to advance or get training to advance. You have not given any effort in your time on base."

Not only was I mistreated, I was setup for failure and then told it was my choice! The commander told me I was not malice in my actions so I would receive an "honorable discharge" from the military. I was processed out of the military immediately.

I inquired if there was any possibility of transferring to the other base and he cold-heartedly said, "no, they didn't want you either."  Distraught, I cried through my entire exit process. I was treated like I was a criminal.

As an 18 year-old I joined the military to proudly serve my country and gain guidance to better my life.

After two years of a horrible experience I departed the military broken-down, beaten down, over-weight, and a failure. 
It took me a long time to regain my self-esteem and to regain the person I was raised to be. I'm disappointed nobody cared to help me. Like the wrong-doing towards me, the wrong-doing towards your mom is just as wrong.

I am proud of the author who created this website and his mom who both have the courage to expose those who have wronged them.

Thank you for allowing me to share my story so others know that they are not alone. We need more people with courage to speak up and defeat what in summary is "bullying" by United States government leadership.

Thank you for giving me the strength to tell my story.

God Bless.