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Roche, Jumper address incoming cadets' parents

WASHINGTON -- The service's senior leaders recently penned a letter to parents of incoming Air Force Academy cadets, promising to protect their children as "we would our own."

Secretary of the Air Force Dr. James G. Roche and Air Force Chief of Staff Gen. John P. Jumper sent letters March 13 to the parents of about 1,000 incoming cadets. In the letter, Roche and Jumper addressed the recent allegations of sexual abuse at the academy and what they were doing to correct the situation.

"We do not tolerate anyone who sexually assaults anyone," they wrote. "Such behavior is criminal and utterly inconsistent with our commitment to developing airmen of value and sound moral character."

Roche and Jumper told parents they were intent on creating a culture at the academy that will identify and eliminate anyone, cadet or staff member, who fails to meet the standard.

"We are absolutely committed to supporting victims and prosecuting offenders when criminal acts are reported," they wrote.

Immediately after recent allegations of sexual harassment arose, the secretary directed a comprehensive investigation. A team led by Air Force General Counsel Mary Walker examined such wide-ranging areas as the structure of the cadet hierarchy and the way the Air Force selects, trains and organizes the academy's staff.

Roche and Jumper said investigators are evaluating how the academy administers cadet discipline to prevent obstacles in reporting crimes.

The two leaders also promised that no one would become the arbitrary victims of a witch-hunt.

"We believe that due process is a critical tenet of justice," they wrote. "We are reviewing the investigative processes to ensure we provide the full protection of the military justice system to victims as well as those accused."

The secretary and general have made it clear in testimonies before Congress and in speeches to cadets at the academy how they view sexual assault.

"We've made it clear to the cadets that all perpetrators, those who fail to act to prevent assaults, those who knowingly protect perpetrators after the fact, and those who would shun or harass anyone with the courage to come forward and report those criminals, will be brought to justice," they wrote.

Roche and Jumper advised the parents that changes are coming to the Colorado Springs, Colo., school that will ensure their children will be both personally secure and professionally challenged.

"This academy has a long history of producing officers of character worthy of serving our nation in the armed forces," they wrote. "We will safeguard your (children) as we would our own."

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