Eight current and former members of the U.S. military allege in a new federal lawsuit that they were raped, assaulted or harassed during their service and suffered retaliation when they reported it to their superiors.
The lawsuit, being filed Tuesday in U.S. District Court in Washington, accuses the military of a having a "high tolerance for sexual predators in their ranks" and of fostering a hostile environment that discourages victims of sexual assault from coming forward and punishes them when they do. The suit says the Defense Department has failed to take aggressive steps to confront the problem despite public statements suggesting otherwise.
The eight women include an active-duty enlisted Marine and seven veterans of the Navy and Marine Corps. Seven women allege that a comrade raped or tried to sexually assault them, including in a commanding officer's office after a pub crawl in Washington and inside a Navy barracks room in Florida. The eighth says she was harassed and threatened while deployed overseas, only to be told by a superior that "this happens all the time."
The women say they've suffered depression, anxiety and post-traumatic stress disorder because of the assaults. One woman says she tried to commit suicide after being raped inside her row home by a senior officer and his civilian friend.