Former Air Force Academy cadets talk about sexual assaults; reports rise at Wright Patt

Published: Monday, December 11, 2017 @ 8:06 AM

CBSNews' Norah O'Donnell talked to two women who were former Air Force cadets who left the academy after reporting acts of sexual assaults.

More than a dozen current and former United States Air Force Academy cadets in Colorado Springs told CBS News they reported sexual assaults only to experience retaliation by their peers and their commanders.

“CBS This Morning” traveled to the Air Force Academy during a six-month investigation into sexual assault in the military. The academy is where America’s best and brightest go to become commissioned officers in the Air Force.

The Dayton Daily News previously reported sexual assaults at Wright-Patterson Air Force Base have increased over the past four years, and nearly doubled between 2015 and 2016, the Department of Defense reported.

Between 2013 and 2016, 83 reports of sexual assault occurred at the Miami Valley base, which is the largest single site-employer in Ohio with a workforce of about 27,000 employees, Pentagon data shows.

The data, which does not include cases from this year, was disclosed as high-profile political and entertainment figures have been accused of sexual assault or harassment in recent weeks.

The Defense Department data is the number of incidents reported to a sexual assault response coordinator or military authorities at a base. According to the Pentagon, an assault could have occurred at another location, prior to a victim joining the military, or while the victim was deployed, on leave, or temporally on duty elsewhere.

Don Christensen, a retired Air Force chief prosecutor, said in his more than two decades of military judicial experience the “vast majority” of reported assaults occurred at or near the installation where it was first recorded.

At Wright-Patterson, 19 incidents were reported in fiscal year 2013, 17 cases in both 2014 and 2015, and 30 cases in 2016, the data showed.

“We cannot identify any significant trends in the increase,” Wright-Patterson spokeswoman Marie Vanover said in an email late Monday afternoon. “While each case has its own unique attribute, the number is not indicative of the number of assaults that occurred at Wright-Patt. There are many factors that go into the numbers; including some cases accounting for more than one incident.”

RELATED: 32 reports of sexual assault at Wright-Patt AFB in four-year period

Several Air Force installations, including the U.S. Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs, Colo., Kadena Air Base in Japan, and Ramstein Air Base in Germany, reported higher sexual assault cases than Wright-Patterson in 2016.

“Although the numbers for Wright-Patt are low in comparison to other places, they are still too high and show we have a long way to go to create a safe work environment in the military,” said U.S. Rep. Mike Turner, R-Dayton, chairman of the House Military Sexual Assault Prevention Caucus.

Both Wright-Patterson and Kadena saw a near doubling in the number of incidents reported between 2015 and 2016, data shows. Kadena reported 19 cases in 2015 and 37 in 2016.

Air Force wide, the service branch reported 821 cases in 2013; 1,003 in 2014; 1,009 in 2015; and 1,043 in 2016.

Among joint bases, Joint Base San Antonio, Texas reported the most incidents in 2016 with 211. Naval Station Norfolk, Va., had the highest number of incidents among military bases that year with 270, data shows.

The U.S. military recorded 6,172 sexual assault incidents in 2016, a 1.5 percent increase compared to the prior year.

Since 2016, Wright-Patterson has put in place “new mandatory awareness and bystander intervention programs” to promote individual responsibility to say or do something when they witness an “inappropriate situation,” and has doubled the number of outreach meetings to increase awareness and prevention of sexual assault, Vanover said in an email.

“We’re dedicated to fostering an environment of respect by standing against anyone who commits sexual assault and supporting survivors of these horrible acts, whenever and wherever it has occurred,” she added.

Christensen, president of the advocacy group Protect Our Defenders, said education to reduce sexual assault can be helpful, “but it’s not going to eliminate the problem and the inability to hold people accountable, which is really a problem here, is thwarting their efforts to reduce sexual assault.”

In a statement, Wright-Patterson said “effectively responding to sexual assaults is not only critical to the health, morale and welfare of our Airmen — civilian, officer and enlisted — but, ultimately essential to Air Force readiness.”

It added: “Respect for all is imperative and success of the Sexual Assault Prevention and Response program relies on all Airmen standing against those who would commit sexual assault and supporting those who have been victimized by these heinous acts. We are committed to providing support to anyone affected by sexual assault.”

The Pentagon categorizes sexual assaults into restricted and unrestricted categories. A restricted category means a victim can receive medical and mental health services, but there is no investigation of the alleged incident, Christensen said.

An unrestricted report allows an investigation to proceed.

Based on those categories, Wright-Patterson reported 12 unrestricted and seven restricted reports in 2013; 10 unrestricted and seven restricted reports in 2014; 11 unrestricted and six restricted reports in 2015; and 20 unrestricted and 10 restricted reports in 2016, according to the Defense Department.

RELATED: Turner bill would expand military sexual assault victims’ rights

Last year, the military reported more than 4,600 unrestricted reports of sexual assault, which was an all-time high, according to Christensen. “It shows that there’s still a big problem there,” he said.

In a statement, he added: “Even in the rare cases where survivors report, 98 percent of the time their assailant is not convicted.”

The Defense Department reported prevalence rates of sexual assault decreased from 6.1 percent of active-duty female service members in 2012 to 4.3 percent in 2016, and from 1.2 percent of active-duty male service members in 2012 to 0.6 percent in 2016.

Sexual assault remains under reported even as the percentage of people who notified authorities of incidents has increased. Prior to fiscal year 2014, the Defense Department said 15 percent or fewer military victims reported sexual assault to military authorities every year. In 2016, the Pentagon estimated 32 percent of victims reported an incident to the military.

Christensen noted the high number of restricted reports in military combat zones could show victims are fearful of reporting incidents.

In Afghanistan, for example, 10 victims filed unrestricted reports while 15 victims filed restricted reports in 2016.

“That tells me men and women in a combat zone don’t feel safe there” to potentially pursue prosecution of a case, he said.

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Veteran service dog missing after running off in Kettering crash 

Published: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 11:19 PM

Photo Credit: Vicky Campbell
Photo Credit: Vicky Campbell

A service dog is missing after he ran off when the vehicle his owner was driving became involved in a crash in Kettering Friday morning.

>> Miami Twp. officer hit on SB I-75 ‘awake but very sore’, driver jailed

Officials say Zeus the dog, and his owner, a Special Forces Veteran, were involved in a two-vehicle crash that ended with their vehicle into a pole at the intersection of E. Dorothy Lane and Shroyer Road.

Photo Credit: Vicky Campbell

Zeus ran from the crash that occurred just after 11 a.m. and has not been seen since.

His owner reportedly suffered a broken jaw as a result of the crash and allegedly will not seek medical treatment until his dog is found, community members said.

Signs about Zeus being missing, as well as articles of clothing have been placed all around the Oakwood, Far Hills, and Oak Knoll areas where he was last seen.

Community members looking for the missing dog urge others to not chase Zeus if you locate him, but rather call the local police department. 

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Two dogs die in ‘total loss’ barn fire in Clark County

Published: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 10:04 PM

Two dogs die in barn fire

Two dogs died after a large barn fire occurred in the 2200 block of E. County Line Road Sunday evening, according to officials.

>> Suspect in 2 Speedway robberies dies in Clark County Jail 

Crews were dispatched to the scene around 8:15 p.m. with reports that black smoke was showing and animals were inside, per initial reports.

CRED: Robert Kennedy

The fire’s start remains under investigation and although damage estimates could not be confirmed at this time, the barn is a ‘total loss’, according to Moorefield Twp. fire personnel.

Only the animals were inside of the barn at the time of the fire.

Credit: Robert Kennedy

German Twp. and Pleasant Twp. fire departments assisted Moorefield Twp. fire crews. 

There was a police standoff in Champaign Co. near the area where the barn fire occurred, however, the two incidents are not related. 

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Waffle House 'hero' disarmed shooter, tossed rifle over counter

Published: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 10:59 AM
Updated: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 4:25 PM

Waffle House Shooting: ‘Hero’ Disarmed Shooter and Tossed Rifle Over Counter

Some fast thinking by a Waffle House patron in Antioch, Tennessee, saved numerous lives after a man opened fire at the restaurant, The Tennessean reported.

>> Read more trending news

Police said the suspected shooter, believed to be Travis Reinking, 29, of Morton, Illinois, opened fire at about 3:25 a.m. at the Waffle House.

James Shaw Jr., 29, was sitting in the Waffle House with a friend when the gunman opened fire, The Tennessean reported. He said he saw a chance to tackle the shooter and does not feel like a hero.

“I don’t really know, when everyone said that, it feels selfish,” Shaw said. “I was just trying to get myself out. I saw the opportunity and pretty much took it.”

“If I didn't put my life at risk, then I'm probably not here," Shaw said later Sunday at a news conference.

Police spokesman Don Aaron said the shooter was rushed by the restaurant patron, disarmed him and threw the assault rifle over a counter, the Tennessean reported.

“When he heard the gunshots (Shaw) ran back to restroom area,” Aaron said. “He watched the gunman.

>> Waffle House shooting: 4 dead after nude gunman opens fire

“He reported that he saw the gunman looking at his rifle. At that point, the shots had stopped,” Aaron said. “So he decided to rush the gunman, actually wrestled that assault rifle away (and) tossed it over the counter.”

“I figured if I was gonna die, he was gonna have to work for it,” Shaw said.

The suspect fled on foot and was nude after removing his coat, police said.

Shaw said a bullet grazed him, so he jumped toward the bathroom.

"I remember I was like ‘Dang, I’m basically in a barrel,’ ” Shaw Jr. told the Tennessean. “There is no place for me to go.”

Shaw said what happened Sunday morning has yet to sink in.

“I don’t know if it has hit me yet as far as witnessing other people dying,” Shaw Jr. said. “Its kind of, it shouldn’t have happened. When I was in (the) ambulance to (the) hospital I kept thinking that ‘I’m going to wake up and it’s not going to be real.’ It is something out of a movie.

“I’m OK, though, but I hate that it happened.”

Shaw said he did not have any special training.

“I don’t have any special combat training, although I do fight to put my 4-year-old daughter to bed every night,” he deadpanned.

Chuck Cordero, a Waffle House employee who was off-duty at the time but pulled up to the restaurant while the shooting was in progress, said the patron “really saved some people.”

"Had that guy had a chance to reload his weapon, there was plenty more people in that restaurant," Cordero told the Tennessean.

A man, believed to be Reinking, was last seen in woods near the Waffle House, police said. He was wearing black pants and no shirt.

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Lyrid meteor shower 2018: 8 stunning photos of the celestial display

Published: Sunday, April 22, 2018 @ 8:25 AM

The milky way and traces of meteors illuminate the sky over Burg on the Baltic Sea island of Fehmarn, northern Germany, Friday, April 20, 2018, during the Lyrid meteor shower. (Daniel Reinhardt/dpa via AP)
Daniel Reinhardt/AP
The milky way and traces of meteors illuminate the sky over Burg on the Baltic Sea island of Fehmarn, northern Germany, Friday, April 20, 2018, during the Lyrid meteor shower. (Daniel Reinhardt/dpa via AP)(Daniel Reinhardt/AP)

This year's Lyrid meteor shower reached its peak this weekend, and photographers flocked to social media to share some stunning snapshots of the celestial display.

See the images below:

>> MORE: Lyrid meteor shower 2018: When, where and how to watch | More trending news 

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