Lt Col Teresa James Shares Experience with Sexual Assault & Reprisal at DoD IG Worldwide Hotline Outreach Conference

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The Department of Defense Inspector General’s office held a Worldwide Hotline Outreach Conference today July 28, 2016. One of their keynote speakers was Lt Col Teresa James, US Army, Retired, highlighted before on this site. The DoD IG twitter feed shared excerpts from her presentation summarized below. As she spoke, I tweeted with them to bring awareness to the specifics that Lt Col James noted and why they are so important. For a complete listing of the tweets by the DoD IG, please visit their Twitter feed here.

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Highlights of Lt Col Teresa James, Army National Guard, Military Sexual Assault and Retaliation Case

Lt Col Teresa James

Lt Col Teresa James

Lt Col Teresa James had a stellar career in the Army National Guard for over 30 years until she reported being sexually assaulted by a senior officer. Shortly after reporting the crime, she took convalescent leave for 30 days to seek medical treatment and eventually was medically retired because “she refused to come into work” according to leadership in the West Virginia Army National Guard. Lt Col James states that she asked for an extension to her convalescent leave (while continuing to seek medical treatment) or to work at an alternate location away from those who were retaliating against her. She did not want to retire and fought the forced medical retirement process but lost those appeals. She is now speaking up about the sexual assault and retaliation she experienced after reporting the assault.  This case is a good example of the complications associated with the expedited transfer policy and how it is applies to the National Guard when both the accused and the victim are permanently stationed at the same location.

In May 2016, news broke that the Department of Defense Inspector General found that a brigadier general in the West Virginia Army National Guard did in fact retaliate against Lt Col James after she reported that she had been sexually assaulted by another officer. This is the first time that the DoD IG has confirmed a report of retaliation in the military. This case highlights the need for coordinated reform on the part of the Chief, the National Guard Bureau, and all of the state National Guard headquarters. The federal government does not have jurisdiction over the States therefore only the Governor and State Congressional members have authority to enact new laws for the National Guard. The National Guard must enact it’s own policies. The DoD IG has no jurisdiction over the West Virginia Army National Guard therefore cannot court martial or admonish the individuals involved. Lt Col James is focusing on ensuring that all State’s enact legislation to protect their National Guard members.

“My whole reason for speaking out is to educate other survivors,” she said,“ ‘That you are not alone. There are people out there that will help you, and that the best thing to do if you are assaulted is report it.’” (via Charleston Gazette-Mail)

Related Links:
Lt. col. says speaking up about assault hurt her career
Serving in Silence: Rape in the National Guard
Troops who report sexual assault face retaliation
Retiring National Guard officer: Leadership should have done more in sexual assault case
62 Percent of Military Sex Assault Reports Result in Retaliation (A Taste of Creole)
62 Percent of Military Sex Assault Reports Result in Retaliation (NBC Washington)
US: Military Whistleblowers At Risk, Retaliation for Reporting Sexual Assault
WVNG Sexual Assault Claims; Female Officer: Leaders Didn’t Act Fast Enough against Superior
Reporting and Law Enforcement Facts For LTC Teresa James, West Virginia National Guard
Reporting and Law Enforcement Facts For LTC Teresa James, West Virginia National Guard 2
One-star general retaliated against LTC sex assault victim, IG finds
First time: IG confirms retaliation against rape whistleblower
Lt. col. says speaking up about assault hurt her career
IG: Rape whistleblower saw retaliation
DOD report: WV National Guard general retaliated against assault victim
Lt Col Teresa James Shares Experience with Sexual Assault & Reprisal at DoD IG Worldwide Hotline Outreach Conference
DoD substantiates its first-ever sexual assault reprisal case, but victim still waiting for relief
Serving in Silence: Sex Assault Retaliation Complaints Investigated
Retired officer tells of sexual assault, retaliation in WV National Guard
New DOD investigative unit to focus on sexual assault-related reprisals
Military Sexual-Assault Victim Tells Her Story to Social Workers Conference