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Zero tolerance for sexual assault

U.S. AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AFPN) -- The Air Force Academy superintendent restated Feb. 21 that there is "zero tolerance" for sexual assault at the academy and in the Air Force at large.

"Any and all perpetrators will be brought to justice and disciplined appropriately," said Lt. Gen. John Dallager. "Such reprehensible action is utterly inconsistent with our commitment to train and equip a world-class officer corps that is the pride of our nation."

Congress and the media are focusing on the academy concerning sexual assaults. As a commander and parent, this issue has Dallager's personal attention and the highest interest of Air Force senior leaders, to include the secretary of the Air Force and chief of staff, he said.

Since 1995, the academy's Cadet Victim/Witness and Assistance Program has not only taught sexual assault prevention, but provided awareness training, medical care, counseling services, legal consultation, victim advocacy, spiritual consultation and investigation. The program continues to educate cadets and support the victims of sexual assault to help in their recovery, increase reporting and create opportunities for investigation, prosecution and conviction.

"Creating an environment where our cadets are free from the threat of sexual assault is our ultimate goal," Dallager said.

Several weeks ago, cadet feedback to the Air Force secretary resulted in a senior-level working group to review sexual assault issues at the academy and all commissioning sources.

The group is trying to identify improvements and underlying causes of this issue, as well as to evaluate longer-term changes. Its charter is to examine the facts and review and evaluate policies and procedures concerning reports of sexual assaults in Air Force officer training programs, with particular emphasis on the Air Force Academy. This is to ensure policies, procedures, training, case disposition, victim support and all other aspects of this issue are consistent with justice, Air Force values and the goal of training the airmen of tomorrow.

"Inside the academy we're taking actions to increase the awareness about reporting of sexual assault and safety issues," Dallager said. "Additionally, we're seeking ways to improve our current programs, and we're enhancing the level of coordination between the agencies involved in sexual assault cases."

Dallager is also working to improve communication.

"In the last few weeks, the (academy) leadership, cadet peer counselors and I have met in many different settings with assault victims and the entire cadet wing. We've sought their counsel on our programs and their suggestions on how to improve them," he said.

"This issue has the attention of the academy and the Air Force. Sexual assaults are something that cannot be tolerated or ignored," said Dallager. "At all levels, I will reiterate that throughout the Air Force at large and the United States Air Force Academy there is zero tolerance for sexual assault."

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