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Air Force Cadets Skeptical About Reforms

September 15, 2003

AIR FORCE ACADEMY, Colo. (AP) _ Alleged victims in the Air Force Academy’s sex assault scandal said reforms will do little good unless the commanders who ignored rape reports are punished, too.

``I think they need to punish our old commanders. Somebody needs to take responsibility. If they don’t hold them responsible it leaves the back door open,″ said former cadet Jessica Brakey, one of 142 female cadets who reported sexual assaults in the past 10 years.

The academy has shaken up its leadership structure and installed new rules on dealing with rape reports in an effort to put the sex scandal in the past.

Beth Davis, a cadet who left the academy after reporting several assaults, said that while the reforms were positive, the school has yet to prove it is serious about change.

``I am encouraged. But they have to prove to me they are going to go through with it,″ she said. ``The military makes temporary changes to pacify people. Then a few years down the road they scrap it.″

She took a year off and returned in 2002, but said nothing had changed.

Davis said the only person punished so far, former superintendent Maj. Gen. J.D. Dallagher, had actually tried to help her.

``He was the only one who has shown any remorse,″ she said.

The commanders she blames most for allowing assaults to continue _ former vice commandant Col. Laurie Sue Slavec and former commandant Brig. Gen. Taco Gilbert _ escaped punishment, she said.

``I don’t think that without them being held accountable there can be significant change,″ she said.

Gilbert and Slavec, who were removed from their positions in April along with another top academy commander, have denied punishing cadets for reporting assaults.

Air Force Secretary James Roche has not ruled out punishment for the two and other former commanders.

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