Civil suit says military abuse tolerated

Nov. 14, 2011 at 12:18 PM
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VIRGINIA BEACH, Va., Nov. 14 (UPI) -- The United States is seeking dismissal of a civil lawsuit alleging Donald Rumsfeld and Robert Gates allowed military sexual abusers to go unpunished.

The federal lawsuit, filed on behalf of 25 women and three men, accuse the former defense secretaries of allowing the military culture that let alleged sexual abusers go unpunished and discouraged victims from seeking justice, The (Norfolk) Virginian-Pilot reported Monday.

The civil lawsuit, was filed in February in U.S. District Court in Alexandria, Va., by Washington attorney Susan Burke with assistance from the Service Women's Action Network.

The newspaper said government lawyers, who argue the courts shouldn't interfere with military command and discipline, contend Rumsfeld and Gates had no personal involvement in any violation of plaintiffs' rights.

Oral arguments in the case are scheduled for Friday.

The Virginian-Pilot said a Government Accountability Office study earlier this year found sexual harassment occurs frequently in the military despite long-standing efforts to root it out.

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