COLORADO SPRINGS, Colo. – The Air Force Academy is facing a fresh round of sexual assault allegations by current and former cadets.
Eleven of those victims left the school over the past 5 years alone. According to the school’s chief of media relations, Meade Warthen, eight of those victims left the school voluntarily. One student was asked to leave for bad grades. Three victims failed to meet the school’s fitness requirements. The last victim left after an honor violation.
Warthen said the school is investigating the latest round of sexual assault allegations but could not go into specifics about what is being done.
In a statement sent to Denver7, Warthen said: “The Air Force Academy is deeply concerned by the allegations regarding the treatment of sexual assault victims at the Academy. Dozens of professionals like Special Victims Counselors, Mental Health Professionals, Victim Advocates and more dedicate themselves day in and day out to the service of caring for the victims of this horrible crime.”
The allegations come just a few months after an audit detailed widespread problems within the school’s Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Office.
The audit, which was obtained by The Gazette, found that there were 45 reported sexual assaults on the school campus in 2016, which is the highest of all American military academies.
The 560-page report, concluded that the office was derelict in the performance of its duties. After it was published, four of the office’s six employees were suspended and the director stepped down.
Despite this, a sexual assault expert says the Air Force Academy has made progress since the 2003 scandal that rocked the school.
Lawyer Anne Munch has worked closely with the academy since that time, hosting yearly sessions with graduating cadets to talk about sexual assault.
Munch says the problems plaguing the Air Force Academy are similar to those on every other college campus, but that it’s important to look at the overall forward progress of the school.
She says she has seen positive changes military-wide, including the addition of new legal and emotional support resources for victims. But Munch says she believes this problem will take a lot of time and commitment to fix.
Despite the latest allegations, Warthen says the school is committed to finding a lasting solution.
“The Academy is also focused on the root cause and believes creating and sustaining a climate of dignity and respect is absolutely essential to ending the scourge of sexual assault. One assault is too many and we will never rest until the number is zero," Warthen said.