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Air Force Academy Sex Assault Office 'Derelict' in Victim Care: Report

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Infighting, mishandled cases, questionable record keeping, alleged office romances and a lurid rumor mill led an Air Force Academy investigator to find that the school’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office was “derelict in the performance” of duties and bungled care for victims.

The scaldingly critical report called for the firing of the office’s former boss, Teresa Beasley, and revealed an office atmosphere that witnesses compared to a toxic high school.

The 560-page report released to The Gazette under the federal Freedom of Information Act shows that some victims were ignored — this as the office’s victim advocates filed claims and counterclaims of inappropriate conduct against each other.

“The amount of evidence demonstrating a lack of competency and ability in delivering professional victim care is overwhelming,” the investigation found. “It wouldn’t be feasible to try to rehash — or even summarize — all the issues and concerns borne out by witness testimony.”

The office is the academy’s first line of care for victims of sexual assault and also provides training to the school’s staff and cadets in a bid to prevent sexual assaults.

The academy had 45 sexual assault reports in 2016, more than the Naval Academy and the U.S. Military Academy combined.

But the new report said record keeping by the sexual assault office was so shoddy that investigators now question whether the number of sexual assaults reported in the last 10 years is even accurate.

The report substantiated three claims against Beasley, who has since resigned:

  • Failure to “effectively manage” the office.
  • Spreading rumors about personnel.
  • Lack of competency that jeopardized the “delivery of professional victim advocacy.”

Beasley couldn’t immediately be contacted for comment. A telephone number for Beasley was no longer in use.

Three other claims investigated in the report were redacted, with the academy citing privacy concerns.

The probe was ordered in May by former academy Superintendent Lt. Gen. Michelle Johnson, who told investigators to examine the “culture and climate” of the office. Johnson also ordered an investigation of “unprofessional relationships and inappropriate comments of a sexual nature” in the office.

The academy later suspended four of six office employees.

The school in recent months has appointed an interim director for the office and has hired new staffers to augment and airmen pulled in to fulfill its obligations.

The office’s interim leader, Kimberly Dickman, said the pick-up team came together from bases around the Pikes Peak region and has focused on caring for victims while the tumult that followed the report and Beasley’s departure subsides.

“The team that’s in there now is highly qualified,” Dickman said.

The Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office, referred to by cadets with an acronym pronounced “sapper,” grew from the darkest chapter of the school’s history. The academy was plunged into scandal in 2003 when dozens of women came forward with claims that their reports of sexual assault were mishandled or ignored.

Under Beasley, who came to Colorado Springs in 2007, the academy office was held up as an example of how the school wouldn’t allow similar problems to reoccur.

Beasley was praised by Pentagon leaders including Nate Galbreath, deputy director of the Department of Defense Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office.

“One of the things that the Air Force Academy does exceptionally well is they have a sexual assault response coordinator who is very well-known throughout the academy,” Galbreath said of Beasley during a 2014 news conference. “Her — she and her team — work overtime in getting in front of the cadets.”

Behind the scenes, though, Beasley led an office known for its chaos, the report found.

“I can’t think of anything to call it other than toxic,” one witness told investigators.

The names of witnesses were redacted from the report sent to The Gazette.

Another witness “compared the office to a high school with lots of back-and-forth infighting,” the report said.

In May, when the report was commissioned, every member of the office had a pending formal human resources complaint against one or more co-workers, the report said.

Investigators say Beasley was at the center of much of the office’s woes, which investigators found were fueled by office gossip.

“Ms. Beasley once shared with me that (name redacted) had an intimate relationship with a security forces major,” one witness reported. “An additional example was when Ms. Beasley shared with me that she thought (name redacted) was gay even though (pronoun redacted) was married.”

Investigators found that Beasley talked about office affairs and once alleged that one of the office’s advocates was having sex with an alleged victim of sexual assault.

“No fewer than eight witnesses testified under oath that they had knowledge of Ms. Beasley spreading rumors,” the report said.

On the management front, Beasley was often a no-show, investigators said.

“Ms. Beasley’s organizational management skills are horrible,” one witness told investigators. “She generally keeps to herself and fails to adequately address, let alone resolve personnel issues within the office.”

In a statement to investigators, Beasley admitted management struggles.

“I admit that during my first seven years on the job, I wasn’t a leader or a manager at all,” she said.

Repeated witnesses told investigators that the chaos in Beasley’s office left victims of sexual assault without proper care.

The office is responsible for helping any academy victim of sexual assault and is on call 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

One witness told investigators that a cadet who had reported a pair of sexual assaults in her hometown was caught in the mayhem. The cadet was given two victim advocates. Neither was particularly responsive, the witness said. When the cadet’s commander called Beasley to ask who could help, she responded “I don’t know,” the witness said.

The cadet wound up leaving the academy.

“She was eventually sent back to her hometown where she had been assaulted and — to make matters worse — she was sent home with no support,” the witness said. “The whole situation was absolutely unconscionable.”

One cadet quoted in the report said the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office was best avoided.

“Nobody goes there,” the cadet said. “It’s too dysfunctional.”

Cadets offered repeated complaints about the office, the investigation found, “three of which complained of Ms. Beasley being overly involved, confused about their case, and telling victims what to do rather than explore options.”

Other witnesses complained that Beasley’s office didn’t return phone calls, respond to new reports, or head to the hospital to support a victim undergoing a forensic examination for sexual assault evidence.

“We were at the hospital for nearly five hours total,” the witness said. “This kind of disorganization threatens victim care and prolongs an already emotional trauma.”

Other victims were neglected, witnesses said.

“We had a victim who went several months without (victim advocate) support,” a witness said. “Unfortunately the victim ended up on suicide watch at Fort Carson, which might have been preventable.”

Investigators ruled that the workers “were derelict in the performance of their duties” from at least 2014 on.

The problems in the office included paperwork issues that have leaders wondering whether the number of sexual assaults reported at the school has been accurate in the past 10 years.

The academy has documented sexual assaults in reports sent to the Pentagon and Congress. Those reports found that the academy had a higher number of reports than any of its sister schools.

But some of those reports may have been phantoms, with auditors finding an error rate as high as 44 percent in a Defense Department sexual assault database under Beasley’s tenure, the report found.

Beasley was responsible for updating the database but “failed to maintain her credentials to conduct this duty,” the report found.

“Ms. Beasley has missed critical sexual assault reporting timelines in three cases,” a witness said.

In some cases, incomplete reports were filed to the database, creating reported sexual assaults in cases where victims weren’t identified.

A high-stakes report to Congress was handled in a manner that witnesses found remarkably casual.

“On the day the draft report was due . Ms. Beasley provided 17 pages of hand-written notes that were poorly written and lacked verifiable data,” a witness said.

The handwritten report came after the Pentagon had chastised the academy for its record keeping.

“The department found that record-keeping and data entry (at the Air Force Academy) was not meeting department standards,” a 2015 Pentagon report on sexual assaults at service academies said.

According to regulation, Beasley had sole control of record keeping but filed reports that weren’t backed up by paperwork documenting the alleged sexual assaults.

The academy and the Pentagon use sexual assault data to track cases and ensure victims get proper care. The information is also used to identify trends in an effort to combat sexual assault.

But at the academy, leaders said they can’t say whether the information they have used for years reflects reality.

“I need accurate data to do my job and yet I have no confidence in the data the office produces,” a witness said. “I’m not sure I can trust USAFA data for the past decade,”

Leaders at the academy say they moved quickly to suspend problem employees in the office and pull sexual assault experts from other bases in the Pikes Peak region to help at the school.

Academy spokesman Lt. Col. Allen Herritage said there was no interruption in care for those in need.

The academy is also worried that paperwork issues in its Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office will drive some to assume that the school was hiding its problems.

In an email to The Gazette, academy Superintendent Jay Silveria, who took command in August, said artificially reducing sexual assault numbers would run counter to what he stands for.

“Our goal is to increase the number of reports while decreasing the prevalence of assaults,” he said.

Silveria also pointed to a report released by the Pentagon this month that showed the Air Force Academy, with 45, had the highest number of sexual assault reports among service academies.

“Honestly, I have to say that if we’re trying to hide numbers, we’re doing a horrible job of it,” he said.

The restaffed sexual assault office is rebuilding trust among the academy’s cadets. Leaders are adding new staffers and growing educational programs that encourage cadets to seek help if they’ve been assaulted.

More than a third of the reports at the academy last year involved events that happened before the victims entered the Air Force.

“I think that’s a good news story, that these cadets felt enough confidence in the system and felt safe enough to trust us in helping them overcome this absolutely horrible part of their past,” Silveria said.

The general, though, is not pleased with any reported sexual assault. He made headlines in September by telling cadets that those who would commit such a crime “need to get out.”

“Let’s be clear, these aren’t numbers — they’re people and even one of them being assaulted is too much,” he said. “We need each and every one of them to perform at their peak to be a lethal force. That is what our nation expects of us.”

–This article is written by Tom Roeder from The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.) and was legally licensed via the Tribune Content Agency through the NewsCred publisher network. Please direct all licensing questions to legal@newscred.com.

© Copyright 2017 The Gazette (Colorado Springs, Colo.). All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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Doug Jones certified as winner of Alabama Senate race

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Democrat Doug Jones was certified Thursday by Alabama’s Secretary of State as the winner of the state’s Senate race, less than an hour after a judge rejected Republican nominee Roy Moore’s last-ditch attempt to challenge the election.

Earlier Thursday, Moore’s campaign alleged potential election fraud and asked a circuit judge for a restraining order to stop Alabama’s canvassing board from certifying Jones’ victory.

A judge then denied the request, leading Alabama Secretary of State John Merrill to certify Jones’ victory.

Jones, who will be sworn in Jan. 3, celebrated the certification and vowed to be “an independent voice” for Alabama.

“I am looking forward to going to work for the people of Alabama in the new year,” Jones said in a statement. “As I said on election night, our victory marks a new chapter for our state and the nation.”

DOUG JONES WINS IN MAJOR UPSET, ROY MOORE WON’T YET CONCEDE

Jones won more than 20,000 votes than Moore in the Dec. 12 election, becoming the first Democrat to win election to the Senate from the deeply conservative state in 25 years.

A Democrat winning the special election for the seat to replace Attorney General Jeff Sessions was seen as just a remote possibility several months ago.

But Jones, a Birmingham attorney famous for prosecuting the KKK, caught a break after Moore was overwhelmed in recent weeks with multiple allegations of past sexual misconduct. Moore, the former chief justice of Alabama’s Supreme Court, faced accusations he pursued romantic relationships with teenage girls while he was in his thirties.

He has denied the claims.

Since the election, Moore has refused to concede.

Moore’s attorney wrote in the wide-ranging complaint that he believed there were irregularities during the election, including that voters may have been brought in from other states. He attached a statement from a poll worker that she had noticed licenses from Georgia and North Carolina as people signed in to vote.

The complaint also noted the higher-than-expected turnout in the race, particularly in Jefferson County, and said Moore’s numbers were suspiciously lower than straight-ticket Republican voting in about 20 Jefferson County precincts. The complaint asked for a fraud investigation and eventually a new election.

Merrill said he has so far not found any evidence of voter fraud, but he has said that his office will investigate any complaint Moore submits.

Fox News’ Griff Jenkins and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

Alex Pappas is a politics reporter at FoxNews.com. Follow him on Twitter at @AlexPappas.

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Bumped United passenger fires back at Rep. Jackson Lee's racism charge, airline

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A United passenger whose first-class seat on a recent flight from Houston to D.C. was given to Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee is firing back at the Democratic congresswoman’s accusations of racism – while challenging the airline’s account of the incident.

Jean-Marie Simon, an attorney and private school teacher, became the latest face of airline passenger woes when she detailed on Facebook and later to the news media how she lost her seat to the Texas lawmaker. 

But despite a statement from United seeking to explain the switch-out, she’s not giving up the fight. And the congresswoman’s response – essentially claiming Simon made a scene because Jackson Lee, as an African-American woman, is an “easy target” – did not calm the waters. 

Simon, in an interview with Fox News, rejected the racism allegation.

“That could have been Donald Duck in my seat,” Simon, a Democrat, told Fox News on Thursday. “I could not see who had boarded the flight. I didn’t even know who she was.”

plane

Jean-Marie Simon, left, and Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, D-Texas.  (Facebook)

Simon originally accused United of bumping her from her first-class seat on a Dec. 18 flight in order to accommodate the Texas congresswoman. 

At first, Simon didn’t know who was in her seat as she argued at the gate. United eventually gave her a $500 voucher and reseated her in the economy plus section. In her original Facebook post, Simon said another Texas congressman then informed her a fellow member of the delegation was in her seat, and “regularly does this” to passengers. 

‘I could not see who had boarded the flight. I didn’t even know who she was.’

– United passenger Jean-Marie Simon, responding to Rep. Jackson Lee’s racism claim

Simon proceeded to take a photo of Jackson Lee, have a tense encounter with a flight attendant who allegedly threatened to remove her — and has been battling with the airline ever since she got home. 

On one front, United claims Simon lost her seat because she canceled her flight via the app (which she denies). And on another, Jackson Lee piled on this week by reissuing her statement chalking up Simon’s discontent to racial animus. 

“Since this was not any fault of mine, the way the individual continued to act appeared to be, upon reflection, because I was an African American woman, seemingly an easy target with the African American flight attendant who was very, very nice,” she wrote. “This saddens me, especially at this time of year given all of the things we have to work on to help people. But in the spirit of this season and out of the sincerity of my heart, if it is perceived that I had anything to do with this, I am kind enough to simply say sorry.” 

Simon is focusing her energy mostly on dealing with United, not Jackson Lee, but told Fox News, “The only way she is relevant is that she has a documented history of demanding first-class service.” 

Asked for comment, Jackson Lee spokesman Rucks Russell said in a statement: “The Congresswoman regrets any inconvenience that her travel may have caused to any passenger, however the issue in question involves the passenger and United Airlines.” 

WOMAN CLAIMS TEXAS REP TOOK HER AIRLINE SEAT

The 63-year-old passenger says her beef mostly is with United and how they treated her. She also suggested the airline is trying to age-shame her.  

“I’m not some AARP grandmother who doesn’t know how to use a phone,” she said. “I know how to cancel a flight and I did not cancel this flight.”  

It’s still not entirely clear what happened that day. 

Simon used 140,000 frequent flyer miles on Dec. 3 to purchase her first-class ticket from Washington, D.C., to Guatemala and back. On her way home, she had a layover at George Bush Intercontinental Airport in Houston.

Simon said the attendant scanned her ticket but her reservation had been removed from the system. At that point, the member of Congress already was in first class, and Simon eventually got the economy plus seat. 

United later attributed the incident to an app cancellation by Simon. 

The official statement from the airline said they “thoroughly” examined their electronic records and “found that upon receiving a notification that Flight 788 was delayed due to weather, the customer canceled her flight from Houston to Washington, D.C. within the United mobile app.”

The statement continued, “As part of the normal pre-boarding process, gate agents began clearing standby and upgrade customers, including the first customer on the waitlist for an upgrade. We were able to provide this customer a seat on the same flight in economy plus.” 

Simon rejects the explanation. 

“Why would I ever cancel the second segment?” Simon said Thursday. “United furnished no proof that I canceled it. And why didn’t I reserve another fight?”

Though United credited her 140,000 miles, what Simon really wants is an apology from the company’s top brass.  

She tweeted that a “low level employee at a call center” said sorry over the phone but that he hadn’t even been briefed on the details of her complaint.

She also took to Facebook on Wednesday asking where’s the proof she canceled her flight. 

Asked Thursday about the discrepancies between United’s and Simon’s accounts, a United official told Fox News that their records clearly show the flight leg was canceled via the app – and not by a gate agent or other third party.

The official said their internal coding reflects the flight was canceled roughly a half-hour before the original take-off time, after it was clear the flight would be delayed over an hour. The congresswoman was then tapped for the seat because she was at the top of the upgrade list thanks to her global services status, the official said.

Though Simon adamantly denies she canceled her flight, the official said it’s possible this could have been done accidentally.

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Trump slams China over reported North Korea oil sales: 'Caught RED HANDED'

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President Trump slammed China on Thursday over the country’s reported illegal oil sales to North Korea, saying they’ve been caught “RED HANDED” and warning such incidents could diminish the odds of a “friendly solution” for Pyongyang.

“Caught RED HANDED – very disappointed that China is allowing oil to go into North Korea. There will never be a friendly solution to the North Korea problem if this continues to happen!” Trump tweeted, while on a holiday break in Florida.

U.S. spy satellites reportedly captured photos of Chinese ships illegally selling oil to North Korean boats some 30 times since October. 

REPORT: CHINA SPOTTED ILLEGALLY SELLING OIL TO N. KOREA

Satellite images released by the U.S. Department of Treasury appeared to show vessels from both countries illegally trading oil in the West Sea, The Chosun Ilbo reported Tuesday, citing South Korean government sources.

ChineseOilShips

U.S. spy satellites have captured images of what appears to be Chinese ships illegally selling oil to North Korean boats.  (U.S. Office of Foreign Assets Control)

North Korea was barred in September by the United Nations Security Council from importing natural gas and had its crude oil imports capped in response to Kim Jong Un’s nuclear missile program.

The U.S. Treasury in November also sanctioned North Korea’s Maritime Administration and its transport ministry, in addition to six North Korean shipping and trading companies and 20 of their vessels, in an effort to block the rogue regime’s transportation networks.

The satellite images appear to identify the ships. One of them — Rye Song Gang 1, seen “connected to a Chinese vessel” — was included in the Nov. 21 sanctions as a vessel of Korea Kumbyol Trading Company possibly transferring oil to evade sanctions.

While Russia exports some oil to North Korea, China is the main source of oil for the rogue nation, according to Reuters. However, the country’s records reportedly showed it exported no oil products to the North during the month of November. It was reportedly the second consecutive month China didn’t export diesel or gasoline to North Korea.

NORTH KOREA CALLS UN SANCTIONS ‘AN ACT OF WAR,’ ‘RIGGED UP BY THE US’

A government source told the South Korean newspaper that, “We need to focus on the fact that the illicit trade started after a UN Security Council resolution in September drastically capped North Korea’s imports of refined petroleum products.”

Chinese foreign ministry spokeswoman Hua Chunying said she had no information following Chosun’s report, but said “the Chinese government has been completely and strictly enforcing Security Council resolutions” aimed at discouraging North Korea from developing nuclear and missile technology.

Fox News’ Nicolle Darrah and The Associated Press contributed to this report. 

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