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Congress of the United States of America:Stop Military Sexual Offenders From Not Being Punished - Revise UCMJ Article 120
  • Petitioned Congress of the United States of America

This petition was delivered to:

Congress of the United States of America
Representative, Florida's 22nd Congressional District
Lois Frankel

Congress of the United States of America:Stop Military Sexual Offenders From Not Being Punished - Revise UCMJ Article 120

    1. Elisha Morrow
    2. Petition by

      Elisha Morrow

      Boynton Beach, FL

In it's present state, Article 120 in the Uniform Code of Military Justice (which pertains to rape, carnal knowledge, and other forms of sexual misconduct) leaves room for total miscarriages of justice and victims who are left with no voice. Below is the story of myself and three of my fellow shipmates. I hope that our journey will help you understand the importance of this cause.

In the spring of 2009, I enlisted into the United States Coast Guard and left for boot camp that May. During my time at Training Center Cape May, I suffered several weeks of sexual harassment and verbal abuse from my lead company commander. I eventually ended up getting out of the Coast Guard (my decision was largely based on my initial experience at Cape May) and reporting the incident to Coast Guard Investigative Services, where I learned I was one of several victims of this company commander.

This Wednesday, September 26, the accused pled guilty and was convicted of several charges, including cruelty and maltreatment. While we were thrilled with the conviction and the fact that military judge issued maximum confinement and a Bad Conduct Discharge, we were bitterly disappointed to see that rape was not included on his charge sheet. It was omitted due to the guidelines currently stated in Article 120.

As it currently reads, Article 120 states that in order for sexual contact to qualify as rape, the victim must meet one of the following criteria: by using force, by imposing fear of death of grievous bodily harm or kidnapping, by administration of drug, intoxicant, or similar substance, or by rendering the victim unconscious. While this does cover a wide array of circumstances, it still leaves room for some military members not to get the justice due them and leaves the hands of prosecutors tied.

In our particular case, the victim of the assault did not qualify as being raped because she did not fall into any of the above listed categories. In her experience, like mine, the harassment began after taps when she was required to clean the company commander’s quarters, often leaving her alone with him in a small office while everyone else was sleeping. Her harassment escalated and she was eventually ordered to engage in sexual activity. Being a recruit and fearful of what would happen if she resisted, she complied with the order and was raped on that occasion and on several occasions after. Because of the present state of Article 120, this case was unable to be pursued as a rape charge and the assailant was convicted on the lesser crime of cruelty and maltreatment.

I know that we can do better than this for the servicemen and women of this country. Anyone that has been to boot camp will tell you that you are conditioned from day 1 to be blindly obedient to any orders given to you by senior personnel.
You are completely dependent on them for not only your professional needs, but your personal and physical needs as well. You do not do anything whatsoever without their knowledge and permission. You don’t question orders for any reason. Frankly, you just aren’t in the mental condition to. A recruit is among the most vulnerable members of the military and they deserve to have that be understood. You are by no means in the condition to defend yourself from a psychological attack. Especially from those you should be able to trust above all else – your company commanders.

All of that being said, Article 120 must be revised. It must have the inclusion that any sexual activity that occurs under direct order or that occurs with a subordinate in a boot camp or similar training setting shall also be considered as rape. Again, I feel it needs to be emphasized that fear and intimidation are a constant in the daily lives of a recruit. There is no such thing as “consent” in that world. In our case, the victim was simply terrified of what would happen if she said “no”. There was no gun held to her head, no alcohol, nothing to render her unconscious, but there was an abundance of the one thing that forced her to comply – fear. Fear to say no to a situation she never wanted to and never should have been put in. The hopelessness or what would happen if she resisted. We cannot continue to expect those who have given up their voices to the United States government the day they took the oath of enlistment to be able to say “no”. It is instead the duty of our elected officials, those that we the people put in charge, to be the voice of our military personnel.

I hope that our story will inspire you to realize the importance of making this change. Please, boldly send the message that sexual assault in our military will not be tolerated and that we will no longer allow offenders to walk away without the punishment that they deserve.

 

Recent signatures

    News

    1. Reached 250 signatures
    2. Our Story... In Depth

      Elisha Morrow
      Petition Organizer
      Superior Betrayal

      By Elisha Morrow (Some names are not disclosed for safety reasons.) "These recruits are entrusted to my care. I will train them to the best of my ability. I will develop them into smartly disciplined, physically fit, basically trained Coast Guard men and women.

    3. Meeting Set

      Elisha Morrow
      Petition Organizer

      Update - Two days ago I recieved an e-mail from Congressman Allen West's Legislative Director, Josh Grodin, who will be meeting with me at the end of the month. I am very excited about this development and have high hopes it will benefit the cause. I will continue to update. Thanks again for all of the support!

      - Elisha

    4. Congressman Allen West - Call to Action

      Elisha Morrow
      Petition Organizer

      All,

      Thank you so much for your support in this matter thus far. Today, I composed my second letter to Congressman Allen West (Representative to Florida's 22nd Congressional District) requesting a personal meeting to discuss Article 120. I am still waiting for a resonse to my first letter. Please, take a moment to contact your elected officials in your area, as well as Congressman West and let him know that we will not tolerate injustice in our military. He can be reached via online contact form by going to https://forms.house.gov/west/webforms/contact-form.shtml . The telephone number for his local office is (561)655-1943. Thank you again for your support! I will continue to update with progress.

      - Elisha

    5. Reached 100 signatures

    Supporters

    Reasons for signing

    • A PITT COLUMBIA, SC
      • 9 months ago

      Hello!

      I've started the petition "Barack Obama and Aaron Schock and U.S. Senate: Eradicate US Army Toxic Leadership" and need your help to get it off the ground.

      Will you take 30 seconds to sign it right now? Here's the link:

      http://www.change.org/petitions/barack-obama-and-aaron-schock-and-u-s-senate-eradicate-us-army-toxic-leadership

      Here's why it's important:

      To Whom It May Concern,

      I was the immediate supervisor for SPC Annzala Pitt at C.Co 225 BSB. In the time that SPC Pitt was part of my squad she encountered numerous difficulties which I believe were entirely due to being mistreated by her senior leadership. When SPC Pitt arrived at 225 BSB she had a medical situation that required attention prior to her deployment to Iraq. When she voiced her concerns to 1LT Riglick not only were her concerns dismissed but her private health information was erroneously released to multiple parties. SPC Pitt filed a complaint for the HIPPA violation against the offending party, 1LT Riglick. A few months later 1LT Riglick was assigned to C.Co as our Platoon Leader. This is undoubtedly the situation that caused SPC Pitt to be labeled as a problem soldier by C.Co leadership. SPC Pitt was not protected from reprisal and was treated badly for the duration of her time with C.Co 225 BSB.

      The result of filing her HIPPA complaint against 1LT Riglick was having a stigma placed on her by the very leadership that was supposed to be protecting her. She endured rumors, attacks on her character, and even attempts at discrediting her intellectual capacities. She was even accused of having inappropriate relationships with multiple senior Non-Commissioned Officers by our Platoon Leader 1LT Riglick. SPC Pitt continuously sought only to do her job as a mental health specialist and as her first line supervisor I pushed for her to be moved from the company to the Troop Medical Clinic. When SPC Pitt was sent to the Troop Medical Clinic to preform her duties as a mental health specialist C.Co leadership made sure to let the incoming social worker know what their impression of her was. SPC Pitt then worked with Major Ball, who had already been told she was a problem soldier, and was subsequently treated horribly to include having to undergo a mental health evaluation without provocation.

      SPC Pitt requested on numerous occasions to be moved from C.Co 225 BSB to another company, battalion, or division to get out from underneath the stigma placed on her. These requests were heard by our Company Commander, 1SG, Platoon Leader, Platoon Sergeant, Command Sergeant Major, and even Division Command team but nothing was done. Instead of helping the soldier 1LT Riglick and Major Ball ordered me to counsel her for their perceived insubordination. When I disagreed with these orders it was made clear that my military career was also in jeopardy. I was ordered by 1LT Riglick to counsel SPC Pitt for not properly using her chain of command to which, I informed the command that she had done exactly what procedures are outlined. The result of my not counseling her for this was to have my MEDPROS status changed to non-deployable by 1LT Riglick. This retaliation against me for defending SPC Pitt would have ended my career if I had not already been found deployable and fit for duty by the Medical Review Board in 2008.

      Despite her outburst which finally concluded her time in C.Co I would still recommend that she be retained by the United States Army. SPC Pitt endured being mistreated for months and still maintained a positive attitude. Her intellectual prowess combined with her willingness to work make her a viable asset. I believe that if SPC Pitt had been able to move to another command away from the toxic leadership of C.Co 225 BSB her military career would have flourished.

      SGT David Trapolsi

      You can sign my petition by clicking here.

      Thanks!

      A PITT

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Aaron Brummett KENT, WA
      • about 1 year ago

      i suffer from PSTD from a male on male sexual assault.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Noel Nosse SILVER SPRING SHORES, FL
      • over 1 year ago

      I have heard several stories on NPR, interviews with military employees, that have expressed having to choose between repeatedly being raped or giving up their career because the perpetrator is in their chain of command and the military police blame the victim. I am very angry that Eric Holder wants to keep the process within the chain of command. 50 years ago the military did a great deal to turn around racist attitudes with forced integration...now they have a sexual assault rate of 6% when the rest of the population's is under 1%...shameful and wrong.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Elisha Morrow BOYNTON BEACH, FL
      • over 1 year ago

      All,

      Baby steps, but this week myself and one of the shipmates went to D.C. and spoke with members of Congress and the Senate about this issue. It will be a long road ahead, but we will get there. Keep sharing and supporting! Thank you so much!

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:
    • Ian blyth BLOOMINGTON, IL
      • over 1 year ago

      I sign because for every story bravely shared on here and other forums, there are countless others that go untold, uninvestigated, or underinvestigated, and all together dismissed. Because the prevalence and commonality of MST, be it one incident or a military service wide issue, means that it needs to be addressed with far more dedication than it is given now. The US military operates far too independently of national, civilian law...and that has to change. And as progressive as the modern military is, it is far from perfect; this is a step, a singular advance, towards making it so. My kind thanks to the enlisted women and men, and I hope this helps make the military worthy of you.

      REPORT THIS COMMENT:

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