Slog News & Arts

Line Out

Music & Nightlife

« Super Geek | Obama Backtracks on Attacking ... »

Wednesday, August 8, 2007


posted by on August 8 at 13:21 PM

Air Force charges rape victim in her own sexual assault: (Via)

[Cassandra Hernandez, a female Air Force airman in Texas] said she was attacked in another airman’s barracks room the night of May 12, 2006, and was partially clothed when she fled the room. She said she reported the incident and received a medical examination.

In her letter, she also said the three male airmen were charged with rape but the charges were dropped after she refused to testify. The woman said she was questioned by the men’s defense lawyer without her victim’s advocate present, which her lawyers said was a violation of military justice policy.

“The pressure of the judicial process was too much for me, and I felt like no one was looking out for my interests,” the woman wrote.

In other words, the woman was raped by three men. She reported the rape. Subsequently, without an attorney present, she was intimidated by superior officers into not testifying. As a result, she was court-martialed for committing “indecent acts” with the three men, with an additional punishment for underage drinking (which she acknowledges, but come on).

But don’t feel bad for her—after all, she was asking for it. In a subsequent statement to the victim’s attorneys, one of the three men said Hernandez had invited the attack because she wore “skin tight” clothes and danced in a “promiscuous way,” whatever that means.

If convicted, Hernandez could face up to a year in jail, reduction in rank, a pay cut, and a possible bad conduct discharge, and could be required to register as a sex offender. The men, meanwhile, have been granted immunity from all sexual assault charges in exchange for agreeing to testify against the woman.
In lieu of intervention by Hernandez’s representatives in Congress or Texas Gov. Rich Perry, her court-martial trial will begin September 24.

RSS icon Comments


Holy fucking shit.

Posted by Carollani | August 8, 2007 1:26 PM

C. Hitchens on Islamic rape/

Why, then, should we be commanded to "respect" those who insist that they alone know something that is both unknowable and un-falsifiable? Something, furthermore, that can turn in an instant into a licence for murder and rape?

Posted by .... ................................... | August 8, 2007 1:28 PM

I guess that's the military's new bold action against rape -- prosecute the accusers.

Posted by keshmeshi | August 8, 2007 1:39 PM

Was Mike Nifong the prosecutor on this one too?

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | August 8, 2007 1:42 PM

Outraged, but not surprised. The military has been screwing women since they began letting them in.

Posted by Dianna | August 8, 2007 1:44 PM

That has to be the most disgusting offer of immunity ever....or at least I hope it is...

Posted by Lythea | August 8, 2007 1:50 PM

How can we do anything to speak up about this? This needs to make it to blogs and pundits all over the place, the only way to stop this second assualt on this woman is to bring to people's attention- if people are paying attention (yeah right in this fast food culture) its the only way to hope that the military might act sanely in this case- THIS IS OUTRAGEOUS!!! What recourse does this woman have now!? Holy fucking shit!!

Posted by NELBOT | August 8, 2007 1:54 PM

I'm emailing this story to any of the blogs I read, please do the same if you are anywhere near as shocked and angered by this story as I am!

Posted by NELBOT | August 8, 2007 2:03 PM

Are you fucking kidding me?

Posted by Ben | August 8, 2007 2:07 PM

OH MY GOD. Seriously, ECB, any ideas of what we can do?

Posted by arduous | August 8, 2007 2:12 PM

Who are her congressional reps? Can anyone quickly find an email address for TX governor Rich Parry? Start writing them today!

Posted by NELBOT | August 8, 2007 2:17 PM

yet more Red Bushie incompetence.

why do they hate the Truth and Justice so very very much?

Posted by Will in Seattle | August 8, 2007 2:21 PM

I just contacted Governor Perry through his website.

Posted by arduous | August 8, 2007 2:28 PM

Sounds like a pretty rotten situation. Still, the situation seems a little fishy. Why would they want to go after this woman if what she says is true? If they were just trying to protect these guys, and avoid public outcry they would have been satisfied when the men weren't prosecuted. Why would they then go after her?

It doesn't make any sense, because the only result would be to bring the Air Force negative publicity. Are they trying to teach her a lesson? Do we honestly believe that the people in charge would approve of women being raped? That they would actually try to send a message to other women that if they report it they will be dealt with? I don't. It's possible, but it doesn't seem likely to me.

Some sort of independent investigation should be conducted. If her allegations are true, then every official involved should be fired, and these men should be punished.

Posted by Ryan | August 8, 2007 2:31 PM

"Cassandra Hernandez, a female Air Force airman in Texas] said she... "

Airperson, people! (I know that's not a word =/ )

Posted by fun shaped | August 8, 2007 2:46 PM


PS to Ryan @14:
It is hard to believe, but not when you look at the Air Force's record in dealing (or not dealing) with rape victims. Much on this subject has been written about the Air Force Academy in particular.

Posted by Sean | August 8, 2007 2:50 PM

ryan, this kind of shit goes on in these sort of boy's club cultures all the time. why are they prosecuting her? because if she wasn't raped, then she violated military regulations, right? she fucked these dudes, which is an indecent act or something. if they didn't go after her they would be admitting something was up. but yes an investigation ought to be held and all the sleaze bags involved should be nailed to the wall.

all one needs consider is that they are prosecuting this girl for having sex, an indecent act, but are giving immunity to the three guys who had sex also.

Posted by douglas | August 8, 2007 2:51 PM

Lythea @ 6,
Don't even kid yourself. Disgusting immunity offers involving all sorts of situations happen all the time. Murder, rape, all the way on down to marijuana charges.

Posted by hattio | August 8, 2007 2:56 PM

Yeah, I know...I'm sure there's even worse ones out there, I just haven't heard of them.

Posted by Lythea | August 8, 2007 3:03 PM

*head asplodes*

@14: Why is this happening? Probably for the same reasons women stationed in Iraq are being told to use the latrine in pairs after dark and never to go unarmed, even in camp-- because while women are allowed to serve, it is still very much a guy's club mentality, and all women are either "sluts" or "bitches", and there for the fucking-- willing or no. There are commanders in the services working to change this, but there are also commanders seemingly dedicated to keeping it the status quo.

Posted by Jessica | August 8, 2007 3:10 PM

when they say that the military keeps you safe, THEY'RE FUCKING LYING.

being in the military is recieving welfare with the illusion of honor.

Posted by maxsolomon | August 8, 2007 3:11 PM

I used to know an outreach worker who gave legal advice to prostitutes who were charged by police officers they'd had sex with. Basically the cop would solicit, have sex with the hooker, then charge her: ta-da, free sex.

And something I would expect to be obvious about the military: it's going to attract three types of people; patriots, people who need money for school, and people who like hurting other people. That third type is always going to be a problem and the military actually does go to some effort to weed them out. But you can't get them all.

That said, everyone who seems to think this kind of behavior can be taken for granted in "boys clubs" needs to just fuck right off. The problem isn't that the military is full of men. The problem is that, no matter how much you dress it up, the mission of the military is fundamentally at odds with a civilized society and is going to attract people who are fundamentally ad odds with a civilized society. To assume that all men are those sorts of people or that all organizations made up mostly of men are those sorts of organizations is profoundly insulting -- not to mention divisive.

Posted by Judah | August 8, 2007 3:33 PM

Judah22- I, a man, contend that Boy's clubs can be dangerous for the same reason White's clubs can be dangerous. When you aren't exposed to a group on a regular basis on equal footing, it becomes easier to dehumanize members of the group and see them as inferiors. My gf works in a male-dominated environment (boss ex-military, no less) and it's grating at best.

Posted by christopher | August 8, 2007 3:41 PM

judah, you cannot be seriously denying the existence and effect of misogynistic cultures. "gentlemen's" clubs for example. the military has had this macho bullshit going on for who knows how long, and there is a laundry list of women who have been victimized by it.

i agree with the violence prone nature of the military and its fundamental opposition to civilization and how that certainly plays into all this, but if you don't think that women are specific targets for harassment within the military then you are totally deluded.

Posted by douglas | August 8, 2007 3:44 PM

@14 "If her allegations are true..." dude, this is rape. Where the hell do you get off even suggesting that 3 men accused of rape should be assumed innocent until proven guilty? We are required to assume her allegations are true (whether or not she even presses them) just ask any ole lacrosse player (or three).

Posted by You_Gotta_Be_Kidding_Me | August 8, 2007 3:47 PM
Sounds like a pretty rotten situation. Still, the situation seems a little fishy. Why would they want to go after this woman if what she says is true? If they were just trying to protect these guys, and avoid public outcry they would have been satisfied when the men weren't prosecuted. Why would they then go after her?

Well, if the prosecutors and investigators have any evidence that she lied, then they should go after her for making false statements, filing a false report, whatever is actually applicable. By going after her for "indecent acts" while essentially letting the guys off the hook, the message to female servicemembers seems pretty clear: don't make any rape accusations unless you want to be prosecuted for it.

Posted by keshmeshi | August 8, 2007 3:52 PM

Christopher @23:

I, a man, contend that Boy's clubs can be dangerous

I'm sorry Christopher, but I must have missed the meeting where all of us men appointed you to speak for us.

And I never said boys clubs can't be dangerous, but using "boys clubs" as a shorthand for "rape clubs" is bullshit for kind of the same reason that using "illegal immigrant" as a shorthand for "Mexican", and vice versa, is bullshit. Associative slurs are always bullshit.

judah, you cannot be seriously denying the existence and effect of misogynistic cultures.

Show me where I said anything that even sounds like, "There's no such thing as misogynistic cultures."

I believe what I was objecting to was using "boys clubs" as a shorthand for "misogynistic cultures." There are gay male sex clubs that only allow men inside. Are they, by definition, misogynistic? No. No more are women's organizations that only allow women, by definition, man-hating organization. So it's fucking insulting to suggest that any club which is for males is, by definition, misogynistic and it is likewise insulting to use "boys club" as a shorthand for "rape club". Duh.

Posted by Judah | August 8, 2007 4:10 PM

Did anyone read the article? Sigh...Another ECB distortion.

Unless ECB has access to documents outside of the article she links to the accused attackers never, never said she was asking to be raped. Nor did they claim she "invited the attack". They claimed the sex was consensual, and they described her earlier behavior as what she was doing earlier in the night, presumably as why they decided to hit on her.

You may choose to disbelieve them, and I am sure I do myself. But to completely mangle their statements into something that states that the 3 accused believed she "invited" an attack is called lying, ECB, presumably the thing you're upset about in the first place.

Again, if you have access to other info than in the article, you might want share it, or at least state its existence. Otherwise, you're distorting, and disgustingly so.

Posted by torrentprime | August 8, 2007 4:13 PM

Judah- not speaking for all men, but I do acknowledge the effect of segregated institutions on human minds. Seems like the majority of blacks I see in my neighborhood are criminals who came here to buy or sell drugs, so I find my mind slipping to where I'm more nervous around blacks than whites. If Seattle had a more integrated black population (spread across all economic classes and neighborhoods), I wouldn't have to check my head like that quite so often.
In the military (like the video game company my gf works at), there are women present, but in such small numbers they can easily be seen as outsiders. The men don't feel comfortable around the girls and shit happens.
But all that said, Torrentprime has a hell of a point. I'm not interested enough to do the homework on this particular atrocity (so many to choose form in a given day), so I didn't read the article. Do we really have a grounds to shit our feminist bricks right now in this case, or is there a more worthy lady out there in need of our liberal concern?

Posted by christopher | August 8, 2007 4:52 PM


My interpretation of the statement @20 (that the military has a guys' club mentality) is that there's an assumption that the military is only for guys -- no women need apply, unless they want to be used and abused. I'm not seeing a claim that all male groups/organizations are inherently violent or misogynistic.

Posted by keshmeshi | August 8, 2007 5:18 PM

Torrentprime has a point that they never technically said "she was asking for it" but that doesn't mean they didn't rape her. The article sounded pretty credible to me.

Posted by J | August 8, 2007 5:51 PM

@30: But the explanation for the outrage described/embellished by ECB was described in 17 as, "this kind of shit goes on in these sort of boy's club cultures all the time." So the best way to describe the culture or environment of "intimidate rape victims into not testifying and then prosecute them" was "boy's club culture."
Bullshit. It's sloppy labeling and Judah was right to call people on it.

Posted by torrentprime | August 8, 2007 5:52 PM

@31: i agree that the article is credible; it's presenting facts. ECB's distortion of it isn't.

Posted by torrentprime | August 8, 2007 6:00 PM

torrentprime, I read the article ... a few times actually, and I saw no evidence of distortions by ECB.

Posted by arduous | August 8, 2007 6:05 PM


"In written statements to her attorneys, the three accused airmen call the sex consensual. One said Hernandez wore "skin tight" clothes, danced in a "promiscuous way" and later stripped naked."

That is a DIRECT quote. I think from that quote, it was in no way a distortion for ECB to write that the men claimed Hernandez "invited the attack." If that was not the implication by the men's statement, then why is it relevant in any way?

Posted by arduous | August 8, 2007 6:09 PM

@14: Are they trying to teach her a lesson?

In a word: Yes.

That they would actually try to send a message to other women that if they report it they will be dealt with?

This is how the US military operates. It doesn't necessarily follow that those in command think that women should be raped, but I don't see what's so hard to believe about the AF not wanting women service members to report assault carried out by male service members. It's drilled in from day one that you do nothing to make the service look bad, and if that means "sucking it up" when harassed or assaulted service member, so be it. As Sean said further down, the Air Force in particular is fairly noted for its poor handling of allegations of rape.

Posted by Darcy | August 8, 2007 7:15 PM

Hrm, should've been "when harassed or assaulted by another service member" up there.

Posted by Darcy | August 8, 2007 7:20 PM

Seriously,is there a letter writing campaign going on or anything we can do? I want to link to this but I'd like to add something on how to help.

Posted by J | August 8, 2007 8:59 PM

Wait a minute. Why the fuck is she being charged with "indecent acts", and yet they're not getting charged with the same thing? What the fuck? If it's not a rape trial, then isn't it a consensual trial? (I know that sounds funny). But what I mean is, since the original rape case was dropped, and since they're not hitting HER with rape, aren't they, in effect, saying that the sex was totally consensual, thereby blaming the men as well, who aren't getting charged?

Or are they just not even bothering with the illusion that they give a fucking shit about some sort of skewed justice?

Posted by Wait | August 8, 2007 10:11 PM

@39: The article ECB linked isn't one of the ones I read yesterday. Both of those other articles imply that the men were charged with indecent acts along with Hernandez, but were then offered immunity in return for testifying against her, sort of like a civilian plea bargain. That first one is especially poorly written, but anyway, there it is.

It's like, at best (I guess?), the Air Force is telling the truth, and are dealing with four people who engaged in consensual-yet-indecent sex... and are singling out the one woman involved to bring up on charges. At worst, they're deliberately covering up a rape. Any way you slice it, it's a load of shit.

When I was reading about this over at Feministing yesterday, one of the commentors likened the entire situation to that of a rape trial in some Middle Eastern countries, wherein a woman who can't provide four male witnesses to her own rape is then brought up on adultery charges.

Posted by Darcy | August 9, 2007 7:25 AM

More rape of women on the blog.

Posted by Ryan | August 9, 2007 7:49 AM

rokiqnxw vilewtu uegm qlhjep esmi twib odnfshae

Posted by vecxfmyu ogwnqbcj | August 21, 2007 6:03 AM

I noticed how you conveniently left out several facts of the story that were reported in the Air Force Times. It appears that when the men were questioned (separately), they all had the same story - that SHE took off her top and SHE took off her pants and SHE began performing oral sex on one of them, which led to the further events that evening. These events do not sound like rape to me. I suggest that everyone commenting on this story read the entire article on the Air Force times instead of this short, one-sided article on here. Statistics show that some, not all, accusers of rape do lie so one should not be so quick to immediately say they did it.

Posted by lori | August 21, 2007 8:36 AM

Comments Closed

In order to combat spam, we are no longer accepting comments on this post (or any post more than 14 days old).