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.
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.
“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.
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.
You can buy a civilian version of the Army's new sidearm system
Sig Sauer, maker of the Army's new M17, is planing to make and sell 5,000 civilian versions of the MHS 9mm pistol. There is no estimated price tag yet.
This is why old boats full of dead North Koreans keep floating to Japan
Hundreds of ghost ships, filled with skeletal remains and shrouded in mystery, have washed ashore in Japan in recent years. They may be from North Korea.
This Marine veteran uses this special ingredient to boost his men's morale
Bill Joerger, Marine veteran and South Philly firefighter, uses his culinary talents to help his men combat the stresses they face every day.
Now you can read about every single fallen US troop in the Vietnam War
The Virtual Wall has a searchable, browsable database with casualty information and tributes for every name on "The Wall," broken down by city and state.
10 places in the world where US influence has plummeted
As the U.S. burns bridges with allies left and right, China has been following behind, picking up the pieces, and forging stronger ties around the world.
Watch this WW2 pilot take to the skies in his old trainer aircraft
After the attack against Pearl Harbor, Capt. Jerry Yellin became a P-51 pilot to defend his country, serving until the last combat mission of World War 2.
Russia's biggest transport plane hauled the Soviet space shuttle
The Anotov An-225 can carry 275 tons of normal cargo in its hold, equivalent to a platoon of M1A2 Abrams tanks. Learn more about this Soviet aircraft.
Nobel Prize winner warns the world is 'one tantrum away' from nuclear crisis
While accepting the Nobel Peace Prize, the International Campaign to Abolish Nuclear Weapons warned that we're just "one tantrum" away from nuclear war.
How Norway's high-speed missile boats pack a big punch
The Skjold can leave a Littoral Combat Ship in the dust, but still packs eight powerful Naval Strike Missiles that'll put some serious hurt on bad guys.