Service members who’ve survived military sexual assaults are asking for more support from the state of California. Members of the Assembly Veterans Affairs Committee and the California Legislative Women's Caucus held a hearing Monday to hear from assault survivors and their advocates.
Veteran Kate Weber was 18 and had only been in the Army for a few months when she was raped by her superior. She later reported the assault to a female officer.
“I told her what happened. I told her the name and everything. And she said, I know him, he has a pregnant wife. He would never do that." - Katie Weber, Army veteran
"And she went to his office and, in front of all his co-workers, told him, you better go shut up that red-head over there, because she’s telling people you raped her," Weber said.
Weber now works as an advocate for military rape victims. She and others are urging the state to increase resources and create policies aimed at helping assault survivors.
California has some jurisdiction over the state Department of Veterans Affairs and the California Military Department, which operates the National Guard and the Air National Guard. General Sylvia Crockett said the National Guard takes assault cases seriously.
“Our preference is to refer the cases to the civilian law enforcement because the penalties for sexual assault in civilian courts are much more stringent than the ones we have in the military," she said. "When civilian prosecution is not an option and there is sufficient evidence of wrong doing, we do prosecute.”
Claifornia also provides funding to County Veteran Services Officers, who are often the first point of contact for veterans.
The US Department of Defense estimates 26,000 service members were sexually assaulted in 2012. The majority of victims do not report their assaults.