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

OFFUTT AIR FORCE BASE, Neb. -- Our military justice system plays an indispensable part in ensuring good order and discipline among our Airmen and maintaining Operational and Personal Readiness in our Wing. However, for the system to be most effective, all military members and civilians must have trust in the process. In an effort to increase trust and provide transparency and confidence in our military justice system, the Air Force now publishes sexual assault convictions on-line.

This public website allows users to review more than 100 sexual assault convictions across Air Force bases between 2010 and 30 September 2013. The case descriptions provide a brief synopsis of the facts, trial results, and the adjudged sentence. Many of these cases have several characteristics and facts in common: 1) the use of alcohol 2) the absence of personal respect for the victim and 3) the absence of the victims' consent. You will see that our military justice system holds Airmen who are convicted of sexual assault accountable by military judges and court-martial panels with punishments that often include jail time, rank reductions and punitive discharges. As with all military justice cases, the decisions and recommendations impacting those discharge actions will be based on the individual facts and merits of the case. There is no pre-determined or expected outcome.

As required by many state laws, convicted Airmen must also register in their jurisdiction's sexual assault registry. These sex offender registries include the names and addresses of convicted sex offenders and are publicly available on-line.

Another potential consequence of committing sexual assault in the Air Force is administrative separation. Effective two months ago, a change to Air Force Instruction 36-3208 requires commanders to initiate administrative discharge proceedings against Airmen who commit a sexual assault or request a waiver of the requirement. For most Offutt Airmen, only the 12th Air Force Commander can waive this requirement, but only after concluding that the Airman meets all criteria in a strict, multi-part retention test.

A number of the cases you'll see on the website involve Airmen assaulting fellow Airmen. Often the victims were co-workers and former friends - people who trusted their assailant. The offenders made a criminal choice to violate that trust and were punished accordingly. Unfortunately, we here at Offutt are not immune to these types of sexual assaults. We must work together to foster an environment that is conducive to growing Airmen and free from any assaults, including sexual assault. If we focus on being outstanding wingmen by protecting each other, providing mutual support, and treating each Airman with dignity and respect, we can prevent these crimes.

I encourage all Airmen to visit the below website and review the facts of these cases, which resulted in Airmen being convicted of sexual offenses. Armed with the facts, we can all educate and warn fellow Airmen about the consequences of committing these crimes. When we see a situation that isn't right, we'll be good wingmen that intervene and insist our fellow Airman treat others with respect. We can't be passive bystanders when a few words of intervention could forever positively change the lives of Airmen around us.

I thank you for your continued efforts to help improve the environments in which we work and live while eradicating sexual assault from our ranks. If we focus on treating others with dignity and respect and providing mutual support to our fellow Airmen, both uniformed and civilian, we will be well on our way to maintaining Wingman Readiness and preventing sexual assault. The Air Force has a zero tolerance policy for sexual misconduct. It's harmful to the victim; it weakens our organizations and, thus, impacts our readiness; and it threatens the trust the American people have in the Air Force. For the reasons above, and more, we need to actively step forward and put an end to unacceptable behavior in our ranks.

Visit the website at: http://www.afjag.af.mil/sexualassaultprosecution/index.asp.