A new report from the Inspector General of the United States Department of Defense confirms allegations of retaliation against an officer in the West Virginia National Guard after her sexual assault.
Lt. Col. Teresa James reported in 2012 that she had been raped by a superior officer. After she reported the incident, Army Brig. Gen. Charles Veit, who served as the assistant adjutant general for the West Virginia National Guard, issued an unfavorable officer evaluation report that severely damaged James’ career. Lt. Col. James alleged, and the IG agreed, that the evaluation was a retaliatory act.
An unprecedented occurrence
The IG’s decision was the first of its kind and sent shockwaves through military circles. Never before had a case involving whistleblower retaliation after a report of sexual assault been substantiated by the IG.
James retired from the National Guard in June. The man who sexually assaulted her was forced to retire, as well.
The IG did not substantiate all of James’s allegations. For example, the IG did not determine retaliation was a factor in a decision to not issue her a meritorious service award or to send her in to be evaluated for mental and medical health.
Accusations of retaliation in the military are often not substantiated. There were 149 investigations between April and September 2015, and only 19 were substantiated. None were related to sexual assault — James’ was the first case of sexual assault ever to be substantiated. To give a picture of just how significant this case is, there had previously been 5,728 reported cases of sexual assault over the last decade alone, and not a single one resulted in substantiation from the IG.
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