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Air Force Academy accused of covering up sexual assault and victim-blaming

An explosive six-month investigation by CBS News into sexual assault at the United States Air Force Academy revealed that the academy may have covered-up scores of cases.

Teresa Beasley, a former top official on sexual assault prevention and response at the United States Air Force Academy, alleged in an interview with CBS News that the academy has a track record of misreporting sexual assault cases and not believing those who say they were assaulted.

When asked if the academy is supportive of cadets who report sexual assault, Beasley replied that it’s “absolutely not. No.”

Beasley said she thinks higher-ups at the academy genuinely don’t believe that there is an issue involving sexual assault and that the victims are making up their stories.

“They would say it in words such as, ‘I find it interesting, the timing of this report.’ Or ‘I am just wondering why this cadet hasn’t come forward sooner with this assault.'”

She also suggested that the academy covered-up two brutal attacks on female cadets that occurred on a running and biking trail behind the academy in December 2014 and January 2015. Beasley said both women were hit in the head – hard enough to cause a concussion – and then sexually assaulted.

Both women were taken to the hospital where they received rape kits, but the academy’s office of special investigations, known as OSI, closed the cases prematurely.

“They, meaning OSI – told me that they didn’t believe her, that they think it was a date that went wrong. And I said how did – how did she – how did she get hit in the head? And they said, ‘Well, she’ll have to tell you that.’ And somehow her – it just – they never investigated it. … About a month later… we had a second incident. … She wasn’t believed either. They said she was making it up. And when I asked why, they said that, this was OSI, they said because her timelines don’t match.”

Many cases go unreported because cadets are terrified of being retaliated against by their peers and leadership at the academy, according to Beasley. She said many victims go through the process of reporting their attacks and receiving help but fall short of signing a document – a form called a 2910 – that would officially report the assault.

“They were actual reports. These were victims that had come in and told their story and had received help, had assigned victim advocates, had been referred for medical counseling. They were actual victims. But they did not wanna sign a 2910 because they were afraid someone would find out.”

Beasley said those cases that lacked a signed 2910 were removed from reports detailing sexual assault at the academy. She believes this is because the numbers were at a record high, and the academy didn’t want that to be public knowledge.

Beasley retired before she said the academy could use her as a scapegoat and fire her for standing up for victims.

[Feature Photo: Pixabay]