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Army Pays Out $820,000 to Settle Sexual Harassment Case

harrassment

By Debbie Gregory.

The Army has paid out a $820,000 settlement to a former military police trainee who was allegedly fired after filing a sexual harassment complaint against a supervisor.

Luydmila Starkey received one of the largest settlements ever made by a military branch in a sexual harassment case shortly before going to trial.

Starkey sued Army Secretary John McHugh in Federal Court  for discrimination and civil rights and employment violations. Starkey said that her then-supervisor, Sgt. Wayne Lord, sent her sexually explicit text messages and photos of his penis when she was employed at the Presidio of Monterey

She believes she was fired because Lord was popular, and she dared to report him. Lord was allowed to resign without an investigation of any magnitude.

“Rather than support me as the trainee officer that had been continuously harassed, the Army chose to set me up for termination while at the same time finding my harasser a new job without any repercussions for him,” Starkey said in the statement.

Lord, who was not a party to the lawsuit, went to work in a police position for the Department of Defense after the Army was presented with evidence from Starkey’s case.

A spokesman said the Army regrets what happened.

Starkey said she will never be able to work in law enforcement again because of the case.

“I only hope that my coming forward helps other women and the culture at the Army of silence and retaliation will change,” Starkey said.

Thousands of veterans have claimed that the Army blew off their complaints of military sexual harassment and rape, and denied or delayed treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder because of it.

Until those who perpetrate this behavior are held accountable, the problem will continue.

Military Connection salutes and proudly serves veterans and service members in the Army, Navy, Air Force, Marines, Coast Guard, Guard and Reserve,  and their families.

Military Connection: Not In My Squad

notinmysquad

By Debbie Gregory.

With sexual assault and sexual harassment threatening the strength, readiness and morale of the U.S. military, the Army’s senior non-commissioned officer has announced an initiative to rid the ranks of these problems.

The zero tolerance policy, “‘Not in my squad’ is a promise that each leader must take in order to care for those in his or her charge, according to Daniel A. Dailey, Sgt. Major of the Army. He stated, “‘Not in my squad’ is about junior leaders taking ownership of solutions.”

According to the Department of Defense (DOD), tens of thousands of unwanted sexual contacts occur in the military every year, yet only a fraction of those get reported. Military sexual violence impacts both men and women. More than half of all incidents of sexual violence happen to men. While rape, sexual assault, and sexual harassment are strongly associated with a wide range of mental health conditions for both men and women veterans, they are the leading causes of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) among women veterans.

The way that “Not in my Squad?” will work is that division-level and corps sergeants major will identify their best squad leaders, selecting a diverse group of 32 squad leaders from across the force. These squad leaders will discuss recommendations on how junior NCOs can build and sustain a climate of dignity, respect, trust, and inclusion.

“We are headed in the right direction to change the culture of reporting and ultimately preventing sexual assault and harassment,” Daily said. “We must remain committed to making further advances along our five lines of effort – prevention, investigation, accountability, advocacy and assessment and we must continue to work on fostering a climate where individuals are not afraid of retaliation or the stigma of reporting a crime.”

Army Chief of Staff Gen. Ray Odierno, speaking about a video he had seen during the Sexual Harassment/Assault Response and Prevention (SHARP) summit he attended, said, “This is really about the core of who we are and making sure everybody underneath us understands we will not tolerate these acts.”

Citing statistics outlined in the 2014 Department of Defense report to the president on sexual assault prevention and response, Dailey said the reporting of sexual assault in the Army had increased by 12 percent, a statistic he viewed as a vote of confidence.

“Not in my squad, not in our Army: we are trusted professionals, so I know all of us will join together and continue to tirelessly and tenaciously focus on the well-being, safety and dignity of our Soldiers and equally dedicated civilian corps,” Army Secretary John McHugh said.

“Sexual assault and sexual harassment shatters good order – it shatters discipline, but more than anything else it shatters the lives of our Soldiers and our larger Army family, and for all those reasons and so many more, we’ve got to do everything we can, day after day, hour after hour to stamp out sexual assault and reprisal,” McHugh said. “We have to instill trust and confidence in our Soldiers and our civilians so they know they can come forward to leaders and when they do, they won’t be victimized again.”

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Military Connection: Not In My Squad: By Debbie Gregory