03/15/04 — Sexual Assault Assessment on base

View Archive

Sexual Assault Assessment on base

By Sam Atkins
Published in News on March 15, 2004 2:00 PM

There have been six sexual assault cases that involved personnel from Seymour Johnson Air Force Base in the past year, according to Brig. Gen. Rick Rosborg, 4th Fighter Wing commander.

He said six cases in a wing of around 4,800 airmen is relatively low, but it is still intolerable and something to be concerned about.

"I take sexual assault very, very seriously," he said today at a news conference on base. "One incident is too many."

Gen. Hal Hornburg, Air Combat Command commander and former 4th Fighter Wing commander, has directed three teams to visit all 15 Air Combat Command installations to review each base's response programs to sexual assault. These visits follow a directive that each major command assess its programs in the wake of a scandal at the Air Force Academy. Last year, several female cadets reported that they were sexually assaulted and said the academy's top officers did nothing in response.

Brig. Gen. Stephen Miller

Brig. Gen. Stephen Miller

Brig. Gen. Stephen Miller, Air Combat Command's sexual assault assessment team chief, said today his team has six members who will gather information on the reporting and handling of sexual assault cases and what counseling and medical care is available for the victims.

The team will meet with the wing's leadership, go to each of the different agencies that are involved in the cases and meet with airmen and officers. Once the assessment is complete, the team will brief Rosborg on its findings. It will not talk to any victims and will not implement any new programs, said Miller.

The teams started visiting the installations on March 3 and will regroup on March 17. After working for another week and a half, they will present a report to Hornburg on April 1.

Seymour Johnson is the fifth installation visited. Hornburg said each one is different. Some bases have surrounding communities that also offer services for assault victims. Rosborg said Goldsboro and Wayne County play a wonderful role in helping eliminate concerns he identifies.

The Lighthouse of Wayne County battered-women shelter deals with domestic violence and sexual assault, and representatives from the organization may come on base today to provide information on what they do.

Rosborg said there are several programs and agencies in place on base, and the chain of command responds quickly. The base has an "equal opportunity office" that educates and responds to allegations of misconduct, the inspector general's office that investigates wrongdoing, a chaplain service that provides spiritual guidance and support, and a life skills service that provides support.

Rosborg said he encourages victims to report sexual assaults, and the base investigates each incident thoroughly.

"We try to bring everything out on the table," he said.