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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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Governors pull National Guard troops from border to protest Trump's 'zero tolerance' immigration policy

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A group of governors are banding together to protest President Trump’s “zero tolerance” immigration policy as the uproar over the separation of migrant children from their parents at the border continues. Some are withdrawing National Guard troops from the south, while others are pledging to withhold resources.

In April, Trump requested National Guard troops — around 2,000 to 4,000 — be deployed to the southern border. His order invoked a federal law called Title 32, under which governors retain command and control of Guard members from their states.

Arizona, California, New Mexico, Texas and Missouri were among the first states to agree to the president’s request. At the time, governors from those surrounding states praised Trump for his commitment toward protecting the border.

WHAT TRUMP’S ‘ZERO-TOLERANCE’ IMMIGRATION POLICY MEANS FOR CHILDREN SEPARATED FROM FAMILIES AT BORDER

“Missourians are grateful to the President for recognizing the need to secure our borders,” former Gov. Eric Greitens, R-Mo., said at the time. “We are proud that Missouri troops will play a support role in guarding against terrorism, protecting Americans from cartel violence, and enforcing our immigration laws.”

“Anything we can do to further bolster these efforts is good news for Arizona and for our national security,” Gov. Doug Ducey, R-Ariz., agreed.

But some governors, both Republican and Democrat, have since changed their positions after Attorney General Jeff Sessions ordered a “zero-tolerance” policy in April, which has resulted in the separation of nearly 2,000 children from their families within a 6-week period.

TRUMP’S NATIONAL GUARD REQUEST FOR US-MEXICO BORDER DRAWS RESPONSE FROM SURROUNDING STATES

Here’s a list of states that are refusing to send National Guard troops and other resources to the U.S.-Mexico border as of June 19.

Colorado

In a June 18 executive order, Gov. John Hickenlooper, D-Colo., forbid state agencies from providing any resources “for the purpose of separating children from their parents or legal guardians on the sole ground that their families are in violation of federal immigration laws.”

Hickenlooper called the separation of children from their parents at the border “cruel” and “un-American,” adding that it threatens kids’ mental and physical health.

The order says state agencies must adhere to federal law, providing services to anyone who is legally entitled despite their immigration status.

“We urge the administration to stop this cruel practice. If the White House won’t act, Congress should. No political end is worth destroying families and traumatizing children,” Hickenlooper said, urging lawmakers to support the Keep Families Together Act.

Maryland

“Immigration enforcement efforts should focus on criminals, not separating innocent children from their families,” Gov. Larry Hogan, R-Md., said in a June 18 tweet. The next day, Hogan ordered four crew members and a helicopter to return to its station in New Mexico.

Massachusetts

Gov. Charlie Baker, R-Mass., canceled plans to send a helicopter and military analysts to back up border patrol due to the “inhumane treatment of children,” his spokeswoman told The Washington Post on June 19.

New York

Gov. Andrew Cuomo, D-N.Y., said Trump’s immigration policies are resulting in “human tragedy” — and New York will have no part in it.

“In the face of the federal government’s inhumane treatment of immigrant families, New York will not deploy National Guard to the border,” Cuomo said in a June 18 statement.

The next day, Cuomo announced he was filing a multi-agency lawsuit against the Trump administration for “violating the Constitutional rights of immigrant children and their families” who have been detained and separated at the border. The governor said there are at least 70 children currently being held in federal facilities in his state alone.

Virginia

Gov. Ralph Northam, D-Va., ordered four National Guard soldiers and one helicopter to return from the southwest on June 19.

“Virginia benefits from the important work of securing our border and we have a responsibility to contribute to that mission. However, we also have a responsibility to stand up to policies or actions that run afoul of the values that define us as Americans,” he said in an online statement.

Northam said the state would be willing to return resources to the border once the Trump administration puts an end to its current “inhumane” immigration policy.

Fox News’ Kaitlyn Schallhorn and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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What was Dinesh D'Souza charged with? A look at the conservative filmmaker Trump plans to pardon

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President Trump announced plans to give conservative filmmaker Dinesh D’Souza, who was convicted of making an illegal campaign contribution in 2014, a “full pardon” on Wednesday.

D’Souza, 57, pleaded guilty to campaign finance fraud after donating $20,000 to New York politician Wendy Long, a Republican, during her Senate race in 2012. He was indicted two years later, in January 2014, for using a “straw donor,” a person who makes illegal contributions to a campaign in the names of others, to make the donation.

As a result, D’Souza was sentenced to five years probation, eight months in a “community confinement center,” weekly counseling sessions and given a $30,000 fine.

TRUMP TO GIVE ‘FULL PARDON’ TO DINESH D’SOUZA

“He was treated very unfairly by our government!” Trump said in a tweet Wednesday, which was then retweeted by D’Souza.

At the time, D’Souza’s attorney, Benjamin Brafman, told The Washington Post in a statement that D’Souza did not have any “criminal intent” — it was simply an “act of misguided friendship.”

“He and the candidate have been friends since their college days,” Brafman explained to the newspaper. “It is important to note that the indictment does not allege a corrupt relationship between Mr. D’Souza and the candidate.”

HOW DO PRESIDENTIAL PARDONS WORK?

D’Souza will become the fifth person Trump has pardoned since taking office, following behind former Arizona Sheriff Joe Arpaio, former Navy sailor Kristian Saucier, former Vice President Dick Cheney’s aide Scooter Libby and the late Jack Johnson, boxing’s first black heavyweight champion.

Here’s what you need to know about the charges D’Souza faced.

What was he charged with?

D’Souza was charged with one count of illegally donating to a Senate campaign and one count of causing false statements to be made to authorities in connection with the contributions.

“D’Souza attempted to illegally contribute over $10,000 to a Senate campaign, wilfully undermining the integrity of the campaign finance process. Like many others before him, of all political stripes, he has had to answer for this crime – here with a felony conviction,” then-Manhattan U.S. Attorney Preet Bharara said in a statement in September 2014.

DINESH D’SOUZA GOT A FELONY CONVICTION FOR ILLEGAL CAMPAIGN DONATIONS; WILL ROSIE O’DONNELL GET THE SAME TREATMENT?

In 2012, the Federal Election Campaign Act limited campaign contributions to $5,000 from “any individual to any one candidate,” the indictment stated.

D’Souza gave Long $5,000 from himself and another $5,000 from his wife in March 2012. Months later, he asked others — an assistant and romantic interest — to donate to Long’s campaign on behalf of themselves and their spouses, promising to later reimburst them $20,000 in cash, the U.S. Attorney’s Office said in a statement online.

“When confronted by Ms. Long, D’Souza initially misled the candidate before admitting what he had done,” the statement adds.

D’Souza’s actions caused the campaign committee to submit “materially false, fictitious, and fraudulent statements” to the Federal Election Commission regarding the sources of the campaign contributions.

In total, Long’s campaign raised less than $1 million for her losing fight against now Sen. Kirsten Gillibrand, D-N.Y., The Washington Post reported.

Fox News’ Brooke Singman and The Associated Press contributed to this report.

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Cuomo's 'open letter' to Trump after Texas school shooting slammed on Twitter: 'YOU do something'

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Hours after a gunman opened fire in a Texas high school classroom, killing at least 10 people, New York Gov. Andrew Cuomo took to Twitter demanding President Trump “DO SOMETHING.” After listing seven mass shootings in a tweet to Trump, Cuomo, a Democrat, then drafted a letter.

The May 18 “open letter” calls on Trump, the House of Representatives and the Senate to take action.

“When is enough enough?” Cuomo asks. “How many more innocent people have to die before you act?”

Cuomo, who boasted about his “F” rating from the National Rifle Association (NRA), told the polticians to put their country first.

“You were elected to do something – do something. Your first responsibility is to the people of the United States, not the NRA – do something,” Cuomo repeated. “My heart breaks for the families who have to grieve from this needless violence – DO SOMETHING.”

AFTER TEXAS SCHOOL SHOOTING LEAVES SEVERAL DEAD, HUNT FOR EXPLOSIVES CONTINUES

The letter, signed by Cuomo — who dubbed himself the “father of Cara, Mariah and Michaela, taxpayer, Governor of New York, NRA ‘F’ Rated Elected Official” — garnered more than 665 retweets by Friday evening and received dozens of fiery replies.

Several Twitter users lectured Cuomo for allegedly not offering any solutions himself, while others told him he should instead focus on New York’s issues.

“You’re the elected official. What’s your plan? Don’t just pass the buck.”

– Twitter user

“This isn’t about you, it’s like you can’t help yourself. You were elected to help NYS, so NYers should be your priority. Sincerely, an ACTUAL taxpayer of NYS, commuter (when the trains work) and NRA member,” one Twitter user replied.

“Why don’t YOU do something in the State of NY that is so terrific that the rest of the States in the USA will follow? IT IS TIME FOR YOU TO LEAD!” another added.

“You’re the elected official. What’s your plan? Don’t just pass the buck,” one user wrote.

“Oh, like NYC is a crimeless utopia. Governor, DO SOMETHING,” another demanded.

Some people suggested Cuomo was “politicizing” the tragedy in order to boost his own popularity among voters — with at least one user calling it his “2020 audition.”

TEXAS SCHOOL SHOOTING SPARKS REACTION FROM TRUMP, OTHER LAWMAKERS: ‘THIS HAS TO STOP’

“Nice to politicize a tragedy. So while we’re going there, who were the presidents during all of these shootings?” one person asked.

“Really? You’re using this horrible massacre for your campaign? NRA F rated could have been left out of this tweet,” another added.

“Andy, STOP making it so obvious that you are running for Prez in 2020 with your ‘new found voice’ on Twitter!” a Twitter user added.

“Nice to politicize a tragedy. So while we’re going there, who were the presidents during all of these shootings?”

– Twitter user

In particular, many users took issue with Cuomo labeling himself a “taxpayer.”

“You are a Taxpayer rated F official as well,” one user commented.

“Taxpayer? Tax Spender Extraordinaire is more like it,” another jabbed.

However, a handful of people did offer Cuomo some support, echoing his comments to Trump and other lawmakers.

SANTA FE, TEXAS HIGH SCHOOL STUDENT RECOUNTS HORRIFIC SHOOTING

New York Democratic Assemblyman Luis Sepulveda wrote, “Couldn’t agree more Governor.”

“I agree, Congress is failing our children,” one man responded.

Trump spoke with Texas Gov. Greg Abbott Friday afternoon to “offer his condolences for those affected by the shooting at Santa Fe High School,” an official told Fox News. He later addressed the nation, asking government officials to work together to prevent similar tragedies.

“My administration is determined to do everything in our power to protect our students, secure our schools and to keep weapons out of the hands of those who pose a threat to themselves and to others,” Trump said. “Everyone must work together at every level of government to keep our children safe.”

Trump announced in late March that the administration would ban bump stocks and “all devices” that turn otherwise legal weapons into “illegal machine guns,” keeping a promise made amid a bipartisan gun control debate just weeks after 17 students were gunned down at Marjory Stoneman Douglas High School in Parkland, Florida.

Fox News’ Brooke Singman contributed to this report.

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