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Civilian panel wanted to review military handling of sex cases

April 29, 1997

WASHINGTON (AP) _ Two female House Democrats called Tuesday for a civilian commission to investigate the military justice system, saying complaints from women about sexual assaults by their superiors are too often ignored or answered with retaliation.

On the same day an Army drill instructor was convicted of raping six female trainees _ mostly by intimidating them with his size, superior rank and implied threats of harm or punishment _ Reps. Carlyn Maloney and Louise Slaughter also introduced a bill to increase protections for women in the military who complain of retaliation.

To dramatize their point, Maloney and Slaughter, both D-N.Y., brought forth at a news conference three former female members of the armed forces who of how they had been sexually assaulted by superiors.

The three women _ a former Coast Guard officer, a West Point cadet and an Air Force captain _ said the trauma was compounded when their complaints were ignored or when they suffered retaliation.

``These women entered the military to defend our country,″ said Maloney. ``Too often they ended up having to defend themselves from their superiors.″

Stacey Tyler, who said she was raped at gunpoint at 17 by an upperclass cadet, said the system contributes to the problem because women often have to report to the same individuals who are accused of abusing them.

``In this closed system, there really is no recourse for women,″ Ms. Tyler said.

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