Court tosses suit alleging sexual aggression at West Point

A former US Military Academy at West Point cadet who sought judicial relief from what she described as a sexually oppressive culture that included crude chants during campus marches was told Aug. 30 by an appeals court to seek help from Congress instead.

The 2nd US Circuit Court of Appeals in a 2-1 ruling cited past court decisions, some decades old, in saying “civilian courts are ill-equipped” to second-guess military decisions regarding the discipline, supervision, and control of military members.

Circuit Judge Debra Ann Livingston wrote that the former cadet, identified only as Jane Doe, couldn’t pursue damages from two former superior officers she claimed ignored or condoned a sexually hostile culture before her alleged 2010 rape by another cadet. She requested and was granted an honorable discharge two years after entering West Point with 200 women in a class of 1,300 cadets. She later graduated from a civilian college.

US Army photo by Stephen Standifird

US Army photo by Stephen Standifird

In her 2013 lawsuit, the woman alleged that the men, a lieutenant general and a brigadier general, created a culture that marginalized female cadets, subjecting them to routine harassment and pressure to conform to male norms.

The 2nd Circuit said it did not “discount the seriousness” of the woman’s allegations nor their potential significance to West Point’s administration.

“As the Supreme Court has made clear, however, it is for Congress to determine whether affording a money damages remedy is appropriate for a claim of the sort that Doe asserts,” the court said.

Dissenting Circuit Judge Denny Chin said the lawsuit should proceed, noting West Point promotes itself as one of the nation’s top-ranked colleges.

District Judge Denny Chin. Wikimedia Commons photo from user Sue Kim.

Circuit Judge Denny Chin. Wikimedia Commons photo from user Sue Kim.

“While West Point is indeed a military facility, it is quintessentially an educational institution,” Chin said. “When she was subjected to a pattern of discrimination, and when she was raped, she was not in military combat or acting as a soldier or performing military service. Rather, she was simply a student.”

The lawsuit sought unspecified damages, claiming West Point’s leaders failed to protect women or punish rapists after accepting women in 1976. It said West Point officials openly joked with male cadets about sexual exploits and faculty members routinely expressed sympathy with male cadets over a perceived lack of sexual opportunities, urging them to seize any chance.

Female cadets coped with a misogynistic culture that included cadets marching to sexually demeaning verses in view and earshot of faculty members and administrators, the lawsuit said.

It said West Point officials required mandatory annual sexually transmitted disease testing only for female cadets, saying diseases harmed women more than men and it was the responsibility of women to prevent their spread.

Photo by Mike Strasser, US Military Academy Public Affairs

Photo by Mike Strasser, US Military Academy Public Affairs

A spokeswoman for lawyers for the officers declined comment. West Point didn’t comment.

A spokeswoman for Yale Law School, representing the ex-cadet, said the woman was disappointed and didn’t know if she will appeal.

Sandra Park, an American Civil Liberties Union attorney, said the judges stretched the meaning of prior court rulings to cover service academy cadets.

“It raises a question whether students in effect are waiving their constitutional rights when they decide to join a military academy,” she said.

TOP ARTICLES
This is how you fight when the waters are rising

Underwater, all the fitness in the world won't save you if you can't keep your head. But dying is dumb. Time to summon a little amphibian ambition.

One session with this trainer will make you assume the fetal position

Water Survival is so badass it's gonna take Max two episodes to get you ready to face it. This is Part 1, where he makes you feel bad about yourself.

This is what happens when a troll runs the obstacle course

Its job is to put one problem after another directly in your way. It's the o-course and your job is to run it before time runs out. Enter Max.

This is how you train for brotherhood

Our trainer will make you a leopard

There’s your enemy, right over there. And he doesn’t see you. Gotta get in him in range though. And that puts you in range. Time to get creepy.

This is what happens when you swap your workout for PT

Once upon a time you were physically fit. It was a grind, but you did it, because there was a test at the end. Good news. It's test time again.

This is how to see if you would have been drafted for Vietnam

Numbers were randomly assigned to birthdays across a given year. The lowest numbers were picked first. Would you have been drafted to go to Vietnam?

4 fictional countries America should invade

It's amazing how many movies and TV shows see countries messing with America without any repercussions. It's time for that trend to stop.

This is the laser that will take out enemy drones

This little 30 kilowatt laser packs such a mighty punch that Lockheed Martin has named her after the goddess of war: ATHENA.

The Punisher begins his Devil Dog revenge spree in new trailer

After a show-stealing turn in “Marvel’s Daredevil,” Marine veteran and human wrecking-ball Frank Castle is back with a show of his own.

THE MIGHTY SURVEY GIVE-AWAY

We want to hear your thoughts. Complete our survey for a chance to win 1 of 5 gaming consoles

COMPLETE SURVEY TO WIN